A few days ago, a Medicine student challenged me with a question that threw me off-balance. As a proud Economics student, he naturally thought I could shine some light into what I thought about the ECB. The only answer I could come up with was, “hmmm, ECB? forgive my memory; my Biology seems to be a little rusty.” The look he gave me made me feel like the dumbest person.
That spurred a conversation that questioned everything I believed in, in regards to learning. I was a good sample of the kind of students filled in our campuses today. ECB, as he later ‘educated’ me, is the European Central Bank.
As an Economics student, this is a subject that I should have been acquitted with. But unfortunately, I am like most students. We only read what is relevant to the exam. The unfortunate truth is Kenyan students study with the sole reason of passing exams. Passing exams would translate to good transcripts and eventually a ‘good job’ with a ‘high pay’. But employers are dismissing the quality of graduates maintaining that in spite of the honours degrees, the graduates are of little use in the corporate world.
So who is missing the point and where are we going wrong? We could blame society for inculcating a culture of excellence being gauged on examination only. Students all the way from primary school level cram to pass exams and very little knowledge, if any, is left after that. It is even worse in campus where the information acquired each semester dissipates immediately after the last paper.
The system could also be the problem. Right form the syllabus; many obsolete things are taught and not much innovation and invention is encouraged. The placement system to institutions of higher learning also contributes a lot. Very many students’ passions and dreams are shuttered due the criteria used by the Joint Admissions Board (J.A.B). The job market takes the cue by not recognizing talent and insisting on grades.
We could play the blame game but ultimately the burden to change things is a collective responsibility. The Chinese have taken over the world in a very short period by laying emphasis on quality learning and tapping into the potential of her people and now even the West feel threatened.
They say Africa is the future and indeed it can be a reality if we changed our style of doing things. I imagine a scenario where students question things in their field at an early stage and not in the final year of study because a project is a requirement to graduate, and try to come up with possible solutions to challenges facing the community. I also imagine a Kenya where talent is nurtured at a young age.
The government has a major role to play to change the education system in the country if Vision 2030 is to be realized. Change starts from a personal level, it starts by each and every of us taking every minute as a learning moment then integrating things learnt with our chosen areas of expertise, for what is the use of knowledge if it is not used to improve the standard of life?