A local Community based organization yesterday held a career exhibition in Kwale County to sensitize secondary school students on career choice. Kwale Welfare and Education Association (KWEA) convened the one-stop educational event at Matuga Girls’ High School where more than 200 students from fifteen secondary schools sampled from Lunga-Lunga, Msambweni, Matuga and Kinango sub-counties converged.
Representatives of about twenty public and private sectors, public universities as well as tertiary institutions delivered motivational talks and carefully led the students in the process of choosing relevant careers.
The event was the second one of its kind since KWEA launched the exercise at Kwale High School last year. Career exhibitions are increasingly becoming necessary to build the capacity of students to enable them pick suitable careers while joining universities and other institutions of higher learning.
The KWEA exercise comes at a time when employers are questioning the preparedness of university graduates to competently operate in the job market. A recent study conducted by the Inter-University Council of East Africa (IUCEA) reveals that only half of the more than 50,000 students who graduate annually are suitable for employment. “And of these graduates, more than half are not suited to their career choice,” notes the report.
The challenge is attributed to the proliferation of satellite campuses, understaffing of public universities and the thirst and haste by Kenyan form four leavers to obtain impressive academic papers to secure jobs at the expense of seeking relevant career advice.
Local education stakeholders have in the past decried the underinvestment in research facilities in the local institutions as another disease ailing education. Indeed, efforts to remedy challenges that have culminated in poor academic results have partly been blamed on inadequate research or lack of it, to ascertain the causes of perennial poor performance.
‘There’s a great need to invest in research if we expect to address causes of poor academic performance in our schools,” said Taita Taveta University College Principal Prof. Hamadi Boga in a recent education stakeholders meeting in Kwale.
But KWEA, a group mainly comprising young professionals from Kwale have developed a holistic initiative to address the ailing education sector in Kwale. The career exhibition is one of the numerous programmes the group is currently undertaking to boost the dwindling academic standards in Kwale based primary and secondary schools.
According to KWEA chairperson Ramadhan Masudi Bungale, the organization is currently working on a series of programmes with all primary and secondary schools in the four sub-counties. “Each KWEA member has been assigned at least two schools to mentor,” says Bungale.
Among the organization’s on-going programs include Visodo Project-distribution of sanitary towels in schools as a way of keeping the girl child in school. The programme has increasingly grown popular in the past couple of years so much, so that it has attracted the attention of Build Africa-a UK based NGO which is currently partnering with KWEA to expand the project in more schools to benefit the girl child in Kwale.
Another of KWEAs principle programmes is the annual charity walk which was launched last year to raise funds for returning desperate girls to school. The walk raised more than Ksh. 300,000 which has since benefitted more than forty girls in Kwale. The annual programme is set to take place on the first Saturday of December every year.
Other on-going projects include mentorship and motivational talks in schools. Bungale also disclosed that KWEA is developing a program document on mentorship and employability for Kwale schools.
The occasion was officially opened by Kwale Governor, Salim Mvurya. The County government of Kwale has been one of KWEAs closest partners in its advocacy in education for all. During the function, the Governor pledged to assign one vehicle every weekend to KWEA members to use in their programmes.
The Governor reiterated his call for the return of the management of primary and secondary schools to the county governments. The drafters of the constitution, he noted, did not think wisely when they placed the management of education in the purview of the national government.
“How does someone sitting in Jogoo House understand what’s happening in our schools,” posed the Governor. He commended KWEA members for their unrelenting efforts to empower students and informed the gathering that his government will in the next financial year, double bursaries from Ksh. 5 Million to 10 Million per ward.
The County Executive Committee member for Education Mr. Mangale Ndegwa, said his department will continue working closely with KWEA to uplift education standards in Kwale. He informed the meeting that his ministry had established a program dubbed Elimu ni Sasa Initiative which has implemented the provision of bursaries and scholarships for several students in Kwale.
Also present was the Country Director of Education who is also KWEA patron Mr. Juma Mwatenga, the CEC for Lands, Mining and Natural Resources Mr. Ali Mwafimbo and his Community Development counterpart Patrick Mtsami. Others included the CEC Trade, Industry and Investments Ms Safina Tsungu and a host of senior government officials.
Professors Hamadi Boga and Halimu Shauri represented Taita Taveta and Pwani Universities respectively. Other institutions represented included, Barclays Bank, KCB, Kenya Maritime Authority, Moi University, MKU, UoN, MTTC –Msambweni and Kwale among others. Several secondary schools and NGOs were also represented.