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Employment versus education: the big divide

Issue 9 / July - Sep, 2012
Jul 16, 2012
Reading time: 5 minutes (576 words)
 

Tanzania is going through some major changes, mostly positive, as she becomes one of the few economies in the world that has potential for investment and growth.

In the backdrop of these tumultuous times, what goes on inside this nation is a matter to behold. Painting a luminous macro picture is one thing, but more often than not, it does not portray the full picture.

With the twist and turns we have witnessed in government policies through decades including nationalization, economic saboteuring, then privatization and liberalization, there has been an undeniable impact it has had on trade practices, incomes, ownership and, alas, education.

Tanzania produces some of the finest academia in the region, but these are few in number. Whether due to attitude at work, or poor equipment and organizational facilities, the majority have little to show for the skills and knowledge they have. Ask those who fall very sick, the presence of good doctors do not change our realities. We still have to rush patients to nearby Nairobi or advanced medical destinations such as South Africa or India. How do we address this reality which seems to completely rubbish our academic elite into non-existence. More adventurous (conspiracy) theories have gone as far as to assert the multilevel marketing pyramid that exists amongst medical professionals thereby postulating that our own doctors have become convenient and profitable conduits to a large scale healthcare industry in other countries.

Yet the best way to get a grasp of this is to look at other sectors in our business surround. Dar es Salaam, the country's ceremonial capital, has a history of love with potholes. In fact, it would be safe to say that we do not really need speed breakers here, because of the nature of the overall surface. So what would you say here? The easy proposition is corruption but the harder one is to admit a huge divide between what we are being taught in our education systems and what our job roles demand of us.

There are many subsectors of the economy that at times seem devoid of creative thinking abilities. Like for instance the creation of a graphic designers logo for a productive organization of government. Expensive contracts given to non creative people could not possibly allude to corruption, but having been awarded a tender, to deliver a collection of cliparts adorned by acronyms does not sound like a rockets scientists revelation to me.

Perhaps the very reason for Tanzania to be high up on the list of growing third world economies is the fact that amongst other factors, we have not yet developed in our education system too.

That learning which bridges the gap between what employers want and what educators teach, is in my view, the most clearly divided now. Communication abilities by teachers need to be improved if students are to follow by example. Many other skills and cultural traits need addressing, in as much as regulatory policies need fine-tuning.

Given an opportunity, Tanzanians can be leaders in education and a source of much sought-after human resource by potential employers.

Mohamedarif Suleman (director@eastcoastcollege.org) (www.eastcoastcollege.org)

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