Re-Aligning The Education System

Esanju Maseka

How Can An Improvement in the Quality of Education Lead to Job Creation?

“Learn to do a job rather than learn to get a job!” Wise words I wish had been shared with me much earlier on in my educational career. You see, the notion often preached to students is for them to get the highest possible qualification they can get so that when they apply for “that job” they will have a better chance of getting it than “that other applicant”.

The end result? The country’s job market flooded with too many over qualified students competing for too few jobs. And, the reality that employees aren’t actually looking for qualification upon qualification, but actual experience. A term often referred to as education inflation. In fact, there is a growing trend across Africa showing a mismatch between the quality of the graduates being produced and the needs of the job market. 

The effect? A large number of unemployed graduates. This idle human capital could instead be utilised to enhance economic development.  But how can we bridge the gap between academia and employment? The answer lies in realigning the educational system such that it will increase the employability of students. A look at various existing educational systems shows that they are failing many of Africa’s citizens in that they fall short of enabling citizens to meet the demands of society. 

Our educational systems should instead emphasize the realities of what goes on beyond the class room or lecture theater. Students graduating from the system should not just graduate with an academic diploma or degree. Rather, through practical skills training they should graduate with a mentality of becoming part of the solution to the ongoing deficiency in the labour market. That way, should they be faced with a lack of need for their skills, with the various skills learned they can then endeavor to create jobs they themselves can fill up through the establishment of their own businesses and companies. 

Educational reforms should thus take on a two pronged approach, namely: alternative job creation avenues through entrepreneurial skills emphasis for identified students and practical skills tailored to demands and skills required by employers for all students.

(Excerpt out of an article produced by Esanju Maseka for the World Bank Zambia’s Think Jobs: The Youth Respond Magazine 2014)

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