Career Development Association of Kenya (CDAK) has raised concern over lack of Intentional Career Guidance and Development in the recently released Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms report.
CDAK is the professional body of career guidance practitioners in Kenya. It advocates and promotes lifelong professionalism in Career Guidance and Development in the country.
According to the association’s board chairperson Margaret Waithaka in a statement dated August 2, 2023, lack of proper career guidance to students, especially those who did their 2022 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams, led over 500,000 students to not apply for any course in any institution in the recently released 2023/2024 Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) placement results.
According to the Association, even though the report mentioned career guidance as part of a weak link in the education system, the mission of the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC), which is to nurture every learner’s potential, may get lost if intentional career guidance is not taken into cognisance.
“While career guidance has been mentioned in several places in the report, a structure recommendation towards policy inclusion is missing. How will learners transition from junior school to career schools without proper guidance? How will they choose their pathways?” said Waithaka in the statement.
CDAK, whose members are drawn from primary and secondary schools, Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions, universities, as well as those who provide career advisory services to the youth in communities and the private sector, has stated that currently there are no clear policies on career guidance guidelines, standards, framework and recognition of career guidance as a profession.
The Association has noted that some of the challenges in the delivery of career guidance in schools include: teachers appointed to deliver career services lack career guidance competencies (training) and have heavy teaching workloads that affect service delivery, schools have many students’ psychosocial challenges thus career is given low priority, insufficient career information, resources and tools for teachers, heavy emphasis on exams over career guidance and transitions and policy gaps which make the service to be offered by anyone and everyone.
Waithaka stated that there is a need to look at benchmarks in many parts of the world and give them a local perspective, institutionalize ideal career guidance services as a lifelong approach, and create career guidance departments in schools to assist students in talents identification, development, and documentation as well as career planning and transitions.
Causes of poor transition to higher learning institutions
Waithaka noted that according to the Economic Survey, the transition rate from secondary to post-secondary education is about 30 percent and the remaining 70 percent is not generally accounted.
KUCCPS placement results released on July 31, 2023, at the Kenya School of Government reveal that out of the 870,561 candidates who were eligible for placements in universities and colleges, only 285,698 submitted applications for placements through the KUCCPS portal. This implied that a total of 585,394 candidates did not make any application.
According to Waithaka, career guidance gaps and the cost of higher education might have made the students not to seek Post-Secondary Education hence resulting in poor transition.
Out of the applicants, 285,167 managed to secure places for degree, diploma, and arts courses in 282 training institutions which cumulatively had declared total placement capacities of 768, 624.
A total of 140,107 were placed in university programs and 130,485 were placed in public universities which declared total capacities of 200,621.
9,662 students were placed in private universities which had capacities of 52,312.
Another 144,500 were placed in TVET Institutions that cumulatively declared total capacities of 513,426.
Those placed in TVET institutions include 13,465 who were placed in University TVETs that had capacities of 20,168; another 125,507 students were placed in public TVETs managed by the Ministry of Education that had a capacity to accommodate 478,308 students while 5,528 students were placed in Non-MOE TVETs which had a capacity of 14,950.
Only 560 students were placed in secondary teacher training colleges (Diploma Teachers Training Colleges) that had capacities of 2, 265. There were 9,673 students who qualified for degree courses but opted to be placed in TVET institutions.
Waithaka stated that some students have concerns over their parents’ financial status hence they fear applying for post-secondary education due to their perceived inability to afford higher education.
“While the government has invested in tertiary education through capitation and student loans, it seems there is a lack of information on how such students can take advantage of these initiatives and overcome their financial barriers,” she added.
Poor academic preparation and transition into the next steps after secondary school might also have played a role in students shunning applying for placement in institutions of higher learning.
In the overall grade achievement of the 2022 KCSE, only 1,146 (0.13 percent) candidates obtained Grade A compared with 1,138 (0.14 percent) candidates in 2021. The number of candidates who scored Grade C+ and above rose to 173,345 (19.03 percent) in 2022 compared to 145,776 (17.55 percent) in 2021.
The number of candidates with a mean grade of D+ and above in the 2022 KCSE exams was 522,588 (59.14 percent) compared to 442,251 (53.29 percent) in 2021 while the number that scored a Mean Grade of E in 2022 declined significantly to 30,822 (3.49 percent) compared to 46,151 (5.56 percent) in 2021.
Waithaka stated that another reason that contributed to poor transition is poor perception of higher education and lack of support since most students live in communities that look down upon education.
The Association suggested that elaborate career guidance programs for students and teachers should be put in place in schools to improve uptake and access to post-secondary education.
It also suggested that guidance should be made available to students at all levels of education in order for them to know their talents and interests early enough to reduce career uncertainty, fear, and confusion.
It called for the need for teachers to have career guidance training in order to acquire the requisite competencies necessary to address the career needs of all students at different levels.
The Career body has also suggested that there should be intentional post-secondary informational programs that share on benefits of post-secondary education, courses offered at different levels and requirements as well as funding sources. Organized visits to institutions can also increase student aspirations and get unbiased information.
By Roy Hezron
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