The death of career guidance culture in Zim

The crisis that Zimbabwe seems to be recovering from has had devastating effects to various sectors of our economic and socio-political life and everyone has had to find ways in which to adapt to the crisis at its boiling point.

Agreed, the damage that the crisis did will need a lot of time before it can perfectly heal and allow the country to go back to its status within the global family.

One such sector that needs urgent attention is our education system which faces a myriad of challenges at all levels, but admittedly I cannot say it’s leaking from the top.

I am sure all sober Zimbabweans will agree that the Education minister has tried his level best against all odds and we have seen some sanity starting to prevail in our schools.

But whilst things seem to be normalising, I continue to note with the greatest concern what I will term the death of a culture of career guidance in Zimbabwe.

I remember in my early high school days our teachers used to run around to make sure that career guidance processes were organised for us, so that we could meet with experts in different sectors and industries and get an idea of what opportunities were available and what we needed to do to lay our tender hands on the available opportunities.

These platforms where effective, you could not help but identify where your strength and interests lay and how you could pursue these interests and still clearly know that your career path was defined and you were certain to succeed.

Other colleagues after these sessions would actually go and change their subject combinations and realign their academic pathway to their envisaged career. That’s how effective those processes were.

Those were the days when our teachers really cared about their students. Days where your teacher would follow your life with keen interest wanting to know where his students were and how they were doing in life, almost convinced that all of us were doing well in our career path.

Those days are gone, and I don’t blame teachers. All of them are preoccupied with thinking of how they are going to pay for school fees of their own children given what civil servants’ salaries can afford.

They are not even sure, come end of the month, what kind of incentives they would receive from their students’ parents who are equally financially hard hit.

Yet it is at this time, when our country is challenged, industry is not performing, jobs continue to shrink, the career path seems to be bottle-necked and littered with a myriad of uncertainties that our young people in schools need to be empowered with an important compass that will assist them to understand the viable career options and directions available to them.

At no time in life is the need for guidance more critical than when there are limited career options like present day Zimbabwe.

How do we expect our young brothers and sisters to sail through these seas without a campus which will make them understand and appreciate available career directions?

We need to catch them young so that our young brothers and sisters can make their proper choices about careers that best suit them so that they can make timely choices of what they want to pursue as a career path, prepare for it adequately, efficiently and successfully work for its attainment.

Our education authorities need, at the very least, to appreciate the need to deliberately kick start a quality career guidance programme so that they prepare our young people for the reality in the employment field, enhance their chances of not only being more competitive in the job market, but of being relevant so that they can have an opportunity to lead meaningful and productive lives.

The current apparent lack of career guidance, or worst still, its non existence will drag the whole generation into the mud.

Perhaps we will be doing ourselves a great favour as a country if we could try and learn from experiences from other countries and I know that we have an army of Zimbabweans who have gone through these experiences in different countries and are prepared to share with those of our leaders who will care to listen.

The little knowledge I have about the need for career guidance initiatives tempts me to think that these sort of initiatives need to be introduced to students at a very early stage of their academic life.

So we are forced to ask the why questions. Why have our school authorities, district and provincial leaders within the education system neglected this life- giving process that makes sure that students do the things they love to do?

Why is that our universities seem to care less about engaging on this issue with our schools to an extent that we only see them exhibiting at annual shows and agricultural shows for that matter?

Why is it no one thinks of assisting the poverty stricken, down trodden young boys and girls from rural areas with this much needed guidance in life?

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