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EAST Africa has greatly expanded access to university education, in response to a surging youth population and strong demand for higher education from students and families. Higher education is seen as a golden ticket to a good job, social mobility and a better standard of living.
But investments in higher education, for all intents and purposes, may be a wasted investment. A report on employers’ perceptions of graduates published in 2014 by the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) and the East African Business Council concluded that on average, 56% of students graduating from East African universities lacked basic and technical skills needed in the job market.
The Society for International Development (SID) in its latest State of East Africa report highlights the risk – students are “emerging from institutions of learning with half-baked skills and fully formed aspirations – a toxic combination by any standard.”[advanced_iframe securitykey=”68f51ed951ec4f22230bb7eb91315944cb08a912″ src=”//datawrapper.dwcdn.net/JOqNW/1/” frameborder=”0″ transparency=”true” allowfullscreen=”true” width=”100%” height=”400″]
SID highlights at least five challenges that need to be urgently addressed: the poor or inadequate infrastructure in many universities; the tensions between profits and quality of education provided; the low admission standards; the quality of university faculty and the absence of support systems for enrolled students.