July 24, 2024

Expanding Job Opportunities Within Education Sector Alone Could Fix Gen Z Unemployment Problem in Kenya

Prof. Dr. Halimu Shauri - Consultant Sociologist  Dean, School of Humanities and Social Sciences PWANI UNIVERSITY

By: Prof. Dr. Halimu Shauri – Consultant Sociologist 

Dean, School of Humanities and Social Sciences PWANI UNIVERSITY 

Email, thecoastnewspaper@gmail.com

“IF you don’t give the youth a song to sing, in form of employment or keeping them busy, THEN, they will compose and sing their own song.”~Prof. Dr. Halimu Shauri

One of the preferred tools to assess the capacity of formal institutions or organizations is called the SWOT. The four letters stand for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to organizational growth and development.

Of all the four, today I want to pick the third – opportunities – for the current slogan of the government in power is “mambo ni matatu” (three things). 

I pick the third because I want to discuss job opportunities that can be created in the education sector to ease the pressure on the growing youthful generation, popularly called the Gen Zees.

Today as I woke up in the morning, I thought there is need to expound on this theory of change for the benefit of our country and the region, probably the world. I did a deep reflection before I left my bed on the unemployment rate in Kenya.

When I looked at the rate, it’s amazing the rate has been on an increasing trajectory every year since 2018.

As a matter of fact, Kenya’s unemployment rate for 2022 was 5.64%, a 0.05% decline from 2021. Kenya unemployment rate for 2021 was 5.69%, a 0.06% increase from 2020. Kenya unemployment rate for 2020 was 5.63%, a 0.62% increase from 2019. Kenya unemployment rate for 2019 was 5.01%, a 0.71% increase from 2018.

It is important to note here that the increasing rate of unemployment is being compounded by a concomitant increase in the youthful population with energy to enter the malnourished job market.

Indeed, the youth population in Kenya increased from 11,089,518 to 13,177,600. Over the same period, the proportion of youth to the total population increased slightly from 28.7 to 29 percent (KNBS, 2009 and 2019). 

Further, the Gini coefficient in Kenya was forecast to amount to 0.39 in 2024. The unemployment rate in Kenya was forecasted to 6.61% in 2024. The unemployed people in Kenya were forecast to hit 1.76m in 2024. Thus, the employment rate in Kenya was forecasted to 66.86% in 2024.

These projections, researchers or believers in data or sciences, will agree are speaking to us as a country. They are saying, unless we do something to engage the youth and reduce unemployment rate we will be in trouble.

This has come to pass with the Gen Z capturing the streets of our capital city and now spread all over the country. The real problem is not the contentious Finance Bill 2024, but the socioeconomic dynamics of our country. 

The ultimate of this is unknown and from the look of things the demonstrations are spontaneous. In fact, one can say:

“The Gen Z demonstrations have no owners, and they direct themselves, making Gen Zees the defector revolutionaries in the supposedly forming new Kenya” (Prof. Dr. Halimu Shauri).

While this is happening and expanding both physically in the social media, the ruling elites are adamant. The are still using the tired strategy of force and intimidation primed by the police and their usual scathing political arrogance, characteristic of well-fed mandarins.

Oblivious of the fact that these demonstrations suggest a paradigm shift from the political baba lead demonstrations. The later had a leader, baba, who could be talked to and be compromised in form of Government of National Unity [GNU] or the famous handshake.

The nascent demos are leaderless and based on anger that has built over a long time derives from botched political promises, corruption and poor corporate governance and hence hard socioeconomics of life in Kenya.

Enough of the background, allow me now to focus on solutions to the unemployment crisis among the youth in the country. My chosen sector to start with is the education sector.

Indeed, I woke up thinking that we can reduce pressure on the unemployment in the country and the education sector can play a major role. One of the roles is for the government to ensure that the problem of shortage of teachers is sorted.

In fact, sources reveal that the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) chief executive Nancy Macharia said primary schools require 99,045 new teachers against the current number of 56,928.

When the government can deploy these Junior Secondary School (JSS) teachers, we can already reduce the youth unemployment pressure by almost 42,000 new jobs. Imagine, 42,000 new jobs being advertised! 

This will be a gigantic effort towards reducing pressure on youth unemployment in the country. What about the shortages of the other levels of primary and in the 8-4-4 secondary schools? When mapped and positions filled, we can probably speak already of over one million new jobs created. 

Secondly, allow me to talk about the current management structure of our education institutions and the practice of good corporate governance. 

Indeed “primary and secondary schools in Kenya operate like makeshift corporate entities, while we know they don’t just resemble, but are real corporations.” (Prof. Dr. Halimu Shauri)

Imagine since independence, over six decades have passed our schools have run without the services of key human resources.

As a matter of fact, “schools have no human resources officers, procurement officers, quality assurance officers, internal auditors, school social workers, school legal officers, school clinical officers, school nurses, school pharmacists and school- community liaison officers.” (Prof. Dr. Halimu Shauri)

Thus, a principal in our primary and secondary schools endure undue pressures because of the positions they hold as chief executive officers (CEOs) of their respective schools. They are on top of being administrators, all the other 10 positions enumerated above.

In short, I will say: “Our principals, in both primary and secondary schools, are our beacons of good corporate governance, playing all these roles without complaining over 6 decades now, but is this fair to them our children and the unemployment rate in the country?”

I bet it is time we dive into deep reflections as a country to reduce the role burden among our school principals. In doing so we will also be creating probably another over half a million new jobs just in the education sector.

Imagine the principals do 11 roles! Let us relieve them of the 10 roles and they just focus on their CEOs’ role. If this is agreeable as a country, we can first improve the governance of our schools, enhance performance and above all create an additional over half a million new jobs.

Factually, we have 32,594, public and private primary schools in the country. If we can make it mandatory that each of these schools employs these said 10 cadre of officers, we would already talk of 325,940 new jobs created for our unemployed youth.

Additionally, we have 10,482 secondary schools in the republic. If again we employ the 10 cadre of officers to help run our secondary schools better, we would have created an additional 104,820 new jobs.

Finally, you can see that if we implement this theory of change by hiring teachers to fill in the teacher shortages in our primary and secondary schools and when we restructure our management of schools to include the 10 new positions in our primary and secondary schools, we would have created over 1.5 million new jobs with advantages of reducing unemployment rate, instituting good corporate governance, enhancing academic performance and thus, reducing Gen Zees’ pressure triggered by joblessness and idleness among our youth.

Above all, the education sector alone shall have diffused the 1.76. million jobs to fix unemployment rate in the country. I submit my thoughts and ideas to help deal with the unemployment crisis in my beloved country.

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