Make education a livelihood opportunity

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. This is one of my favourite Nelson Mandela quotes. That quote by Madiba, as he was fondly known, has over the years remained relevant to Africa, a continent that has come to the realisation that education can truly liberate a people, literally and figuratively.

A shallow look at our history will show that most freedom fighters in African nations recognised the value education played in their fight against colonialists and were educated.

In Kenya, both primary and secondary school education in public schools is free, a legacy of former President Mwai Kibaki.

As a result, over the years there has been a vast improvement in school enrollment, increase in literacy levels and many children from poor families benefitting.


The expectation, therefore, has been that the learners can translate what they gained from school into livelihood-making opportunities for the benefit of the learner and the parent and the society in general.

However, that has not been the case. There are many learned youth who have sought education even in private universities only to find themselves ‘jobless’ or with no skills for self-employment.

It looks as if a lot of investment is made in education whose fruits do not match the labour incurred.

A good indicator would be the jobless youth in Kenya, whose numbers have been rising steadily over the past few decades.

Parents invested in educating their children yet they are still dependants. Again, the government uses funds from its citizens; hence, the taxpayer has paid heavily for education.


Can we, then, acknowledge that education is still the most powerful weapon…? Many Kenyan youth may not agree with Madiba’s statement and may not even understand how they can change their own situation, let alone “the world”.

They are struggling with poverty, joblessness, health issues and social status, among other things. This drives them to desperation and, in turn, affects the economy. When the able-bodied idle around waiting for their aged parents to provide, it becomes a ticking bomb that could go off anytime.

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