Kenya’s High Unemployment Rate: A Case of Chronic Societal Programming

Written by on February 27, 2017

Recently, a friend of mine said, “it is very hard to convince the young generation of the benefits of education when their relatives are highly unsuccessful academics”. That got me thinking about what truly is the main cause of the situation we’re in as a country. True, the education system has a huge part to play in this and it is quite easy to point fingers and call it quits but we can’t just post all the blame on education’s burden bag.

Let me switch the topic a bit and give you a look at society. We have been brought up in a community that fears failure and abhors risk. We may have read a thousand motivation books that tell us that failure is healthy and a good learning experience but deep within, we all know that we think that is just a bunch of bull and we’d rather be on the winning side. Why? You may ask.

We’ve been raised in an environment that rewards success and trumps failure. This is the case both in our homes and at school. the smart kid gets the present, the successful sibling gets all the respect and praise and the rest are just etceteras. It kind of reminds me of what Cersei Lannister says in the Game of Thrones, “in the game of thrones, there are no losers, you either win or die”. This is the kind of feeling that has been imprinted in our heads. This society tolerates no failure. In return, we have become non-risk takers. We only play it safe and when we fail, we crumble at the thought of defeat.

Back to the school system. Personally, I view schools as creativity spaces which provide a means for people to increase their intellectual know-how and capacity. On the other hand, our schools are mind training theatres where we teach our young ones how to think like us. Parents are already setting goals for their kids without taking into consideration other factors such as talent, passion, ability etc. You’ll find a parent with a 2-year old kid and they already have ideas about which Ivy League college the kid will attend and what is going to happen during most of their kid’s childhood. Children no longer have time to be kids or discover themselves. We are all in the rush of amassing degrees but we never stop to question their value. Our universities have the highest exam cheating rates and hundreds of Kenyans are graduating every day but the industry side is always complaining about poorly skilled graduates. All we’ve done is increase the number of degrees and reduced their quality in the process.

The main aim of a huge percentage of our academics is to graduate, get a good job and live a happy high-end life just like society taught them. In simple terms, we’re training job seekers and that is why the only thing our graduates can do is look for jobs.

Ask yourself, why is it that the successful elite is now made up of the different ones. The college dropouts who have multi-million dollar companies and hardcore hustlers who have started businesses from scratch and seen them thrive? This is a group of people who chose to drop the mainstream thought process and society punished them fo it. But in the end, they see the true potential of having a free mind and reap the maximum benefits.

I overheard someone ask, “Why isn’t the Silicon Sahara growing like the Silicon valley?.  One simple answer is that there isn’t a sufficient number of college dropouts in East Africa.

We are a result of what happens when you put a generation through mass programming of the thought system. Whatever we do is a mass reflex action. We have made a comfort niche for ourselves and formulated causes and philosophies that justify our state of mind and make us feel great for our shortcomings.

We need an ample amount of free thinkers. A sort of the open minded ninjas who can gear our community from the oppression of societal mind programming. We need brave risk takers, people who actualize ideas. We need people who are not afraid to rebel.

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