Every year, as the KCSE results are announced, there is jubilation for the star performers and a moment of sadness for those who did not perform well. The exams raise such heightened expectations because to many people, they are the definite turning point in their careers. The best students go on to select lucrative courses in public Universities while the rest have to with what is available. Some eventually choose to enroll in Kenyan middle level colleges. However; the best brains rarely study in the country.
A snap interview with the best performers will reveal that a majority of the top brains rarely want to study in Kenya, let alone working in the country. This means that the best students at Alliance, Starehe, and Mang’u amongst other schools have their eyes set on securing lucrative jobs abroad even in their tender years. This presents a worrying problem for the country as its most promising youth have no intention of studying and working in the country under any circumstances. This is the first set of brain drain that is experienced.
The second set of brain drain occurs right after graduation from our county’s private and public Universities. The best students then leave the country to seek for work opportunities abroad. It is estimated that nearly 30% of Kenyan University graduates now work overseas. The science and engineering graduates are especially hard hit. Since there are hardly any lucrative science and engineering careers in the country, a majority of them have to seek employment overseas. Even for the ones who remain behind, they end up working mostly in the financial industry in an area that they didn’t train for. This presents an internal brain drain.
However, the main cause of the country’s best and brightest brains shunning jobs in Kenya is because of the corruption, tribalism and nepotism involved in securing jobs. Simply put, your connections are the main determining factor in your career progression. To many bright youngsters therefore, all they are asking for is a merit based system that will see their talents recognized.