Why Students Are Rushing for Teaching Courses - Expert

Collage of a teacher in session and on the right, the University of Nairobi towers
Collage of a teacher in session and on the right, the University of Nairobi towers

For a long time, the government has been considering scrapping certain university and college courses due to their limited appeal in the job market. 

In April 2019, the then Education Cabinet Secretary, the late Prof. George Magoha, hinted at the possibility of eliminating around 98 courses due to their low student enrollment rates.

Interestingly, in October 2018, President William Ruto, who was Deputy President at the time, advised students to steer clear of courses like Sociology and Anthropology, deeming them as unproductive choices.

Fast forward to the present, valid concerns have arisen regarding the employability of certain courses. 

Data published by the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) reveals that more than 100 courses each attracted less than 10 students during the 2023 university placement cycle. 

However, amid these challenges, there are positive developments as well. The report highlights that out of the over 140,000 students placed by the commission into various universities, approximately 30,000 have opted to pursue a Bachelor's degree in Education.

Remarkably, despite possessing the qualifications to pursue more specialized fields like Pharmacy, Medicine, or Architecture, these students have chosen the B.A. in Education as their preferred course.

Speaking to Kenyans.co.ke, Professor Raphael Nyonje, a faculty member from the Department of Education at the University of Nairobi, explained that they anticipate an even higher enrollment in this discipline due to the shifting employment trends observed in the country. 

“There are ready employment opportunities for teachers in public or private schools - whether on full time basis or as many young teachers do, then as part-time teachers employed by the board. These kinds of chances are not present for many fields,” the Prof. noted.

UoN graduates during a graduation ceremony at the institution in July 2019.
UoN graduates during a graduation ceremony at the institution in July 2019.

The Professor believes that the hard economic times in the country have prompted students to pursue job safety instead of professional prestige. 

Prof. Nyonje also asserted that many professionals nowadays prefer employing teachers because they know they can be moulded into instructors or peer developers.

“A lot of bankers will prefer getting a business and mathematics teacher on board, because they believe they can be very instrumental in teaching others and they are also very adaptable,” he noted.

By his account, the current job market is in search of skills, flexibility and value addition.  According to him, these are traits that will make the difference in the current job market.

Prof. Nyonje contends that most students might have come to this realisation and are scrambling for education courses even when they are qualified for other courses.

“You also need to remember that teachers can become anyone in society. If you are trained as a teacher you can easily morph into any profession, business or even community service,” he said.

Another reason behind the high enrollment of students into education, the Professor attributed the recent changes in university education financing. 

The administrator said that public universities will now be getting more students who would have previously sought different cources in private universities. 

However, the recent education reforms have seen many students find refuge in public universities, unlike before where the government would still finance them while in private universities. 

This change, according to the professor, has made students look for the closest marketable course that they easily qualify for. As it turns out, many of them have settled for education. 

He affirmed that the University of Nairobi is ready to accommodate the high capacity of students who will be joining in early September this year. 

A photo of students taking an exam.
A photo of students taking an exam.