The recent release of the results of the 2014 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examinations was predictably met with the usual post-KCPE/KCSE effusiveness about growing numbers sitting for the exam et al before predictable discussions about how to reform the education system followed by Kenyan-style hibernation until next year when this year’s results will be released.
Recently though, in a discussion about socio economic factors in Kenya, someone brought up the issue of employment.
Employment rate is used as a measure of labor market conditions and an economy’s ability to provide jobs for its population. Kenya’s unemployment rate grew from just over 12% in 2007 to 40% of the labor force in 2013.
Among the 10 counties with the highest proportion of employed persons in Kenya, Nairobi and counties around the capital make up 6 of them. This reinforces an earlier point about urbanization as a form of brain drain where the rest of Kenya’s counties act as feeders for Nairobi and the counties around it.
But what implications does education level have on type of occupation?
2 striking observations:
The first, individuals with secondary-plus education are 1.6 times more likely to be wage-employed than those with primary level education only. This forms a good basis to argue for the scrapping of the primary school version of the KCSE, the KCPE.
Year in, year out, a significant proportion of the students who sit for the KCPE are locked out of high school after “failing” the national exams. This means that at the age of 13 or 14, the system already slashes an individual’s probability to gain wage employment by 1.6 times. You simply can’t grow an economy like that. Anyone see the paradox in declaring education free yet limit its access? Let everyone get a high school education at least, whether they are a good student or not. Simple.
Also, people with no formal education are more likely to be engaged in agriculture than those with a secondary-plus education. Agriculture is the backbone of this economy which, then, makes it is self-defeatist to leave it to the hands of those with no formal education. It should not be an after-thought, a plan B, when employment seems unattainable. Make agriculture sexy, shower it with incentives and let’s grow this economy.