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Is a degree worth having in Africa?

BBC Africa HYS Team | 15:51 UK time, Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Students nearing the end of their final year at universities across Africa are contemplating their career options - but will their academic degrees land them their dream job?

Research from the World Bank and the Kenya Promotion Council suggests that Kenyan graduates are missing out on good jobs because university teaching does not place enough emphasis on practical skills .One report says insurance companies spend a lot of money bringing graduates up to scratch because they lack the relevant skills.

Has higher education enhanced your job opportunities? If you are an employer in Africa what's your experience of hiring recent graduates? If you didn't attend university, were you able to find a good job? Are there other benefits to having a degree besides financial ones? Are you a recent graduate? Tell me your experience.

To debate this topic LIVE on air on Wednesday 26 May at 1600 GMT, please include a telephone number.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    A degree?? I think as a man it is worth having but as a woman you can do without it. As a woman, going for job hunt in Africa to be pricise Ghana, all you need is be willing to sleep with the boss or the CEO and your job is assured. Most of these bosses simply look for women who can speak fluent English and not those who neccessarily possess any degree. Degrees are worthless in the face of "whom you know syndrome". I possess a 2nd Class Upper degree from the oldest university in Ghana and yet for 4 years now I still eat from my parents pocket because I don't have the "links" i.e to say I don't relate people of influence. Degrees in Africa are worthless by and large....

  • Comment number 2.

    According to Aristotle, 'Education is the best provision for old age.' In the words of Clairborne Pell, 'The strenght of the United States is not the gold at Fort Knox or the Weapons of mass destruction that we have, but the sum total of the education and the character of our people.' There is no doubt that higher education increases ones job opportunities. The Nigerian National assembly recently passed a law making it mandatory for all public office holders to have a college degree. The consultative council in Niger recommended that only those with college degree should hold public offices. The sad thing about Africa is that a college degree does not guarantee a job but who you know and how well connected you are. There are people with first class honours who are still searching for jobs years after graduating from school. In the same vain, there are people in good positions who don't even have a collge degree simply because they are well connected.




  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    Having a degree in Africa may not be worth because of corruption and sectarianism in some countries where many people get jobs through political party, race considerations other than qualifications, there fore in Africa a degree may be worth if one has links with a high class of people but some are able to get employment opportunities from International organizations which don't mind about politics and racism.

  • Comment number 5.

    Is degree worth having in Africa? This type of question, from my point of view, is inappropriate in all levels. education was introduced mostly by christian envagelist who came in from united kingdom in early 19th century and we have been progressing since then. We definately need education in Africa to combat continious flooding of our economy with expertriate siphoning income out of our system every year. Yes, our leaders are notorious for mismanagement and you, the developed countries, are tried of supporting us financially. instead of objecting to educating farica, you could ask if 'you need to increase educational visas to african students so we could close the gap in litracy and technical development.

  • Comment number 6.

    If those companies are having problems of hiring students with skills and spending more money of training, they should follow the xamples set by companies in developed countries where they give students summer internships. Internship is a great way of recruiting students for future hire.

  • Comment number 7.

    Education provides key to many avenues of life skills, adventure and social consciousness. As much as the alleged universities may not provide the desired practical work skills, the graduates have a feature of knowledge and general understanding of world around them better than those without that level of education.
    The challenge of practical work skills may need to be looked at the curriculum design, staff developing and delivering it. Two, how often do we review and make our education and systems correspond to contemporary demands? Acedemic principles may have not changed but their application leaves alot to be desired.

  • Comment number 8.

    Having a degree does not really matter any more in my own country,becos even those who call themselves graduate can not even differentiate left from right,most do buy their way in,by bribing their lecturers etc,but what really matters is how well you are,what can you really do? e.g somebody graduated from mechanical engeering and didnot know how to fix a nut in an engine only to beg a raodside mechanic to teach him one or two things,the simply truth about the whole scenerio is that,degree in africa does not count, it a mere paper work.When you're submitting assigment to a lecturer with money,bribe to sit for exams,bribe after exams in short everything about unversity in Nigeria is money.

  • Comment number 9.

    What a staggeringly bigoted question. I always had a sneaky suspicion that some of the BBC's reporting was by closet bigots, frankly, this question proves it.

    I look forward to your next question, probably something along the lines of "Are Africans intellectually inferior to Europeans?"

  • Comment number 10.

    Our education is too much theory and little practice time. The Curriculum was made years back by the British Colonialists. Our leaders have done little or nothing to revise it, it’s outdated. In the Zambian case Students have little time to practice in the industry, An example is students who graduate in the School of Education after a 4 year studying to be a teacher, they only practice (compulsory) in 1 month 1 week. That’s a joke. The Curriculum has to be revised to meet present day demands and challenges. In our societies were unemployment levels are high people should be trained to run their own firms and business and not waiting for government which unfortunately due to the nature of education people will have to wait for government to employ them because private firms are skeptical until one proves they have EXPERINCE. [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 11.

    [Personal details removed by Moderator][Personal details removed by Moderator]University Curriculum was made years back by the British Colonialists. Our leaders have done little or nothing to revise it, it’s outdated. In the Zambian case Students have little time to practice in the industry, An example is students who graduate in the School of Education after a 4 year studying to be a teacher, they only practice (compulsory) in 1 month 1 week. That’s a joke. In our societies were unemployment levels are high people should be trained to run their own firms and business and not waiting for government.

  • Comment number 12.

    Not every educated african joins the migration wagon whenthey finished schooling. Those who stay behined find their certificate worthwhile and even those who leave have managed to continue their education with what they acquired back home. S o yes a degree is worth having in Africa

  • Comment number 13.

    University degrees in Nigeria need a radical change. We have problems with outdated curriculum and many of those in charge of effecting a change are old schools who graduated in 1973. Consider having a degree in Computer Science where a student would be require to spend half a decade in the university and then come out knowing close to nothing about computer itself.The problem is that for five years they are busy learning mathematics, philosophy, chemistry,biology and general studies rather than learning practical things about computer. For five years, you keep learning theory in the name of broadened your mind but know nothing about your main course.I believe we spend too much time learning little. A computer science degree or any major degree should not be more than 3years. This is one of the reasons why our degree are not recognised.

  • Comment number 14.

    [Personal details removed by Moderator]the present situation of unemployment in Africa makes university education a challenge especially when it comes to a dream job,to secure a job is a matter of who know you or how much you can offer,(in love,sycophancy and braism),as an unemployed graduate,you are always in a constant flux with frustration,but as the saying goes,"the fear of accident should not prevent one from driving",the four years you take in a university in academic struggle should be compesated for through out your life with a decent and lucrative job,having a university degree is a life lasting security,after all,you should always hope for a that day your dream job comes.junior sowa
    sierra leone

  • Comment number 15.

    To my stunning surprise and a great deal of bemusement by BBC’s have your say questionnaire whether or not “is a degree worth having in Africa”. It is once more again BBC’s precarious and degrading reporting’s focused only on African continent by magnifying its negativities and misgivings.
    BBC very well knows that, the United States of America and Great Britain has been brain draining African countries by offering high salaries and unsolicited permanent residency as well as citizenship for highly educated Africans in their perspective countries and therefore they can fill the shortages of medical fields such as doctors, nurses and so forth, as it is almost a customary for rich Africans to send their youngsters to the UK or US, and or a government to government scholarships in hopes that the African students will go back to their countries after accomplishing their studies to help and support their hard-pressed communities and countries.
    In short the BBC’s have your say questionnaire whether or not “is a degree worth having in Africa” is insensitive, fallacious, insulting, degrading, and absolutely preposterous as always demeaning and an old philosophy of imperial and colonial power point of view.

  • Comment number 16.

    The World Bank report highlights the authors' misunderstanding of the main purpose of a university education, which should be to acquire the key skills of independent enquiry and critical evaluation. Technical skills of the kind described in the report should be either taught in polytechnics, or "on the job." A university is, by definition, an academic institution, not a place for the acquisition of technical skills - except of course those relating to the certain professions such as medicine, which polytechnics are not equipped to teach.

    What the report should have focused on, instead, is the dismal quality of teaching in some African universities today.

  • Comment number 17.

    I think the quality of graduates is on a downward trend. They have all the qualifications on paper and lack the basic competencies needed to perform well at their jobs. However, i think it is important to have a degree and the experience gained when undertaking one not just academically but socially too. I often find that those who have been to a higher education institution think more broadly and engage in some form of critical thinking that those who have not. That being said i also question the value of the degree when i look at those who have made it without it - musicians, sportsmen, actors-perhaps having a degree is not necessarily the only way to get a well paying career.

  • Comment number 18.

    The situation is now worrisome over here in Nigeria.Nigerian graduates are now regarded as half baked due to their little practical experience couple with their low knowledge of entrepreneural skills. In the next three months,I too will become a university graduate and what I fear most is the relevance of my theorical based knowledge in a society which demands sound practical experience.

  • Comment number 19.

    Recently a World Bank report in my country Kenya said the country is losing out on big opportunities to export professionals due to the nature of its education system which emphasises more on theory than practical skills.
    The report indicated that international Service markets such as the US, Europe and the EAC region which Kenya targets to export its professional services “were increasingly demanding practical skills, a development that is locking out thousands of Kenyan graduates.”
    This will mean that my country is not going to be competitive enough and be at par with the regional blocks and even the international markets.
    This is due to our Universities and professional institutions offering more of theoretical education at the expense of hands on which is key in employment.
    Many of students in our universities only think of passing examinations as opposed to meaningful learning which as a result brings out half-baked graduates.
    Professional churned out of our universities in the fields of Accounting, Architecture, Engineering, Legal services, ICT and IT related services are proving to be wanting when confronted with the dictates of the job market.

    Majority of the students who leave our Law schools cannot even do basic drafting leave alone interpret the law.
    It leaves a lot to desire and one wonders whether they bought their way to graduation.
    Many lawyers in Kenya are less qualified to export legal services because most have not acquired the international experience that can only be gained through internationally known firms.
    The pupilage and internships done locally focus only on the basic criminal cases which do not have international jurisprudence which is key.
    There is also the lack of professional tailor made trainings which are core in continuous development of a person in the country. Reputable professional outfits like Kenya Institute of Management, Kenya School of Law, Kenya College of Accountancy and School of Journalism have all gone commercial admitting huge numbers of students at the expense of inculcating continuous development of market oriented people.
    Something needs to be done.

  • Comment number 20.

    I find it surprising that BBC would ask such a question. I wonder how it would sound if the same question was asked back, I wonder what the answer would be. In every country there has been, there is and there will be the unemployed, and sometimes knowing somebody in a particular company can give you an advantage, this happens everywhere.
    African educational systems are not the best in the world, more can be done to improve them, but they have proven to be exceptional in training. I agree that very little attention is given to practical, but African universities provide you with the greatest, and most important skill in the world - the ability to LEARN FAST AND ADAPT. It shows in how well we perform in any foreign university, or foreign setting.

    To answer the question, YES A DEGREE IS ESSENTIAL. It makes a difference, there are institutions in my country that would not take anything lower than a 2:1. Most managerial positions can now only be held with a masters. You could try going without a degree, and believe me you would be left out.

  • Comment number 21.

    I don't consider this a legitimate question at all. Some of the schools in Africa deliver quality education that matches best practises anywhere in the world. I know this because I schooled in Lagos and in London. It's amazing how we're let to believe that our things are always inferior. Africa believe in yourself!

  • Comment number 22.

    Having a degree in Africa is good at least that can make you read and write but i strongly dont think it would get you any where though.It would only take you as far as your family connections is,this i assure you.I have a second class honours from a university of technoloy in Nigeria yet no job for the past four years.The ones i can lay my hands on are not worth the stress bcos the take home pay is paltry.As an after thought,i would have learnt a trade and by now at least i would be able to feed my family.

  • Comment number 23.

    The african curricullum and education standard is diminishing drastically am not saying totally bcos will still have some brains and genius around bcos our universities still produces first class students and can compete with anybody and anywhere. But my problem is this, our education is now and totally commercialised,first you have know someone and have huge amount of money to get into universities.Am so lucky to pay less during my university days at the '''LAGOS STATE UNIVERSITY''', even my secondary education is more expensive than my UNI fees....Am not saying i had a fantastic stay in the university( small lecture rooms, limited books, asuu,nasu and ssanu strike, student rioting, cultism etc.) and we have to cope with all this issues and at the same time spent over 6 years on 4 years courses.African student suffered a lot to cope with studies in an unstable environment. For this reason african tend to excel when they found themselves in a condusive environment that is good for studies......but african leader should make our universities condusive learning so that our degree can be worth having.

  • Comment number 24.

    Like everywhere else we need people with a range of educational qualifications, and more importantly skills and knowledge. It all depends on what needs to be done. At the same time, employers need to look not just at the pieces of paper job seekers hold, but what they can actually do. Sometimes you get people with great CVs (and therefore qualifications) who really are terrible in interviews and practical demonstrations.

  • Comment number 25.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 26.

    In my opinion, carricula should be designed in a way to enable the graduates to create their own jobs rather than expecting jobs elsewhere.
    These days, education has come to be practice-based and these mode of education builds emotional acceptance to oneself to take risks and create job. In other words Mode I (MK I) has changed to Mode II (MK II).
    To do this mode of education system is, of course, the responsibility of governments, especially governments of African countries! That time, education will matter in sustaining life!

  • Comment number 27.

    A degree is worth having anywhere in the world. The last time I checked, Africa was still part of the world.
    The issue is much deeper than a degree because the curricula are all inheritances from the colonial era, with slight or no modifications. This same problem is the problem with democracy, which is definately not ideal for Africa, especially as it often carries its burdensome cousin, capitalism along with it.

    Africa's charismatic leaders died soon after the fight of independence and we are now left with gladiators who fight anyone or anything that stands in their way, even their own people.
    The cumulative effect of these sort of rulers and their actions has led you, the BBC to ask this sort of question in the first instance. Would this be a sensible question in Europe, even though their are all manners of countries in Europe as well?

  • Comment number 28.

    Absolutely. I am from Tanzania and got a degree in the UK before moving back to Dar es Salaam in 2004. I found that having a degree opened up my chances of better jobs. The growth of trade in African countries where the telecoms, finance, hospitality and tourism sectors are growing at a fast pace, and with International funding and investments being pumped into African countries, it's a great time to be in Africa with a degree.
    I'm a female and I didnt have to sleep around with CEOs or bosses as some people have commented, if you have worked hard and earned a good degree, I don't see why you would have to do that, there might be one bad seed but that doesnt make all seeds bad! We should stop making excuses and use education as a means to raise the African profile. In fact, the best thing we can do as Africans, is use our education to better our chances of growth and development.
    I know many fellow Tanzanians, who graduated from US, Malaysia or UK and have come to start new enterprises in Tanzania or have found work in the growing sectors, with good wages that they can use to support their extended families.
    The only issue is that the majority of the African population can not afford to go to University to get a degree, I was lucky to get a scholarship to go to University but with UK universities charging £10000 per year tuition fees and not many scholarships, it makes it virtually impossible for students to afford. Even in our own countries its expensive to go to universities.
    However, my answer is YES. There's never been a better time to have a degree in Africa. Education is the key to success in any field, in any part of the world.


  • Comment number 29.

    there is a gentleman who stated in his country women only have to sleep with someone to get a job and sadly i believe that is prejudiced. All over the world there are both men and women who sleep there way up. It is a matter of choice on whether you want to 'be that person' or work your way up. But you cannot assume all women acquire jobs in that manner.
    I digress, i believe a degree is worth having as there are places who hiring you is dictated by your education level however what you studied is not necessarily what your career will be. e.g i was a double major student concentrating in Business & Marketing well i work in the advertising industry as i realized i do not enjoy corporate work nor do i have the tolerance for the politics. Secondly i admit nepotism exists exists but you cannot blame it on everything!! Did you ever try start your own venture? Part of the problem is the 'i need to get a job' mentality. As a continent people do not try to create jobs rather await the 'government' to do so.
    Njeri, Nairobi

  • Comment number 30.

    A degree is not necessarily for jobs. The essence of a degree is to put the graduate in a position such that they would be able to find solutions to their problems as well as life's numerous problems. A bachelor's degree is supposed to make one an analytical problem-solver.If a graduate is not able to do this, then there is a problem with the manner in which the degree was acquired in the first place! If one's ultimate aim for acquiring a degree is job acquisition, then the fellow is better off being an apprentince tradesman.The issue of job is a secondary aim for acquiring a degree. We've been unable to solve most of our problems in Africa because of the fact that the ratios of graduates who possess Bachelor's dgrees to the populations of our communities leaves much to be desired.Till we are able to arm a greater percentage of our populations with at least Bachelor's degrees, our problems would continue to overhelm us.In societies where some so called policy-makers have never seen the insides of a University lecture halls, the kind of solutions they would prescribe for our problems would be anything but abysmal.

  • Comment number 31.

    This is a problem all over the world. When shall we ever learn? The solution is not to encourage career professors that have never held any jobs beyond the walls of the universities but to recruit professors from the banks, insurance companies, retail businesses, governments, etc.

  • Comment number 32.

    Degree is important but political affiliation, freindship,...are more important. That is why we can easily witness, in most of the cases, where a non-degree employee is a boss for the degree holders in some African countries. A case in point can be Ethiopia, where one needs to be a member of the ruling party if he/she wants to secure a job, get promoted, ... where membership card outweighs the degree. This in turn has led to the deterioration of the quality of education (Degree) in the country. Almost all university students are becoming members of the ruling political party just for the sake of getting job after graduation. That means university lecturers are teaching political 'cadres' as all are members. Then these students will become also lecturers in the universities, further detoriarating the quality.... the process goes like that.

  • Comment number 33.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 34.

    a degree in africa is worthy having, though having one is starting to lose meaning in many parts of africa due to some of the reason below:
    1. acquiring adegree: this is so expensives that most people espesially those with low income have to part with other home assets like land or animals for their children to get degrees, this alone wouldn't be bad if at all after graduating the graduate would be an asset to the family but they instead become liabilities, someone may ask how? in africa having a degree is one thing & getting a job is another thing, you must have a jobfather or be ready to part with some good amount of money or the combination of the two to get a job, people nolonger look at the qualities of the papers but who you are & what you have, whose son or whose daughter? therefore many people with degrees in africa are roting in the villeges living lives which is more worse than for those who didn't go to school. some are even employed by them,

  • Comment number 35.

    The question of whether a degree is still worth having, should be a country-by-country question and response. I continue to cringe every time I read or hear broad generalization of Africa. It is the only continent that is often generalized or lumped as if it is one country instead of 53 different countries.
    Each country’s economy/labor market trend will all determine if university graduates will find employment. For example, many Nigerian medical professionals are in Saudi Arabia, Europe and America where they can find employment and better wages. Not to mention all the other fields.
    After the end of apartheid in South Africa, only a few educated Black South Africans and others who immigrated to South Africa, are living a middle-class life and enjoying the dividend of democracy, while a vast majority of uneducated or Black South Africans without a degree are still living in abject poverty.
    In a country like Nigeria,they need a few and well-equipped university instead “mushroom universities” that look more like primary schools. Last, but not least, universities need to combine practical/internship with theory/classroom work, in order to prepare graduates for the work-force. A degree is still worth having because it often prepares one for employment or how to become an entrepreneur and employ others.

  • Comment number 36.

    Degree is worth having in Africa, but no good graduates. It is highly unfortunate that the tertiary sub-sector in Africa has, today, been turned to ivory tower of vices rather than of knowledge. The University and Polytechnics, in particular, are now notorious for cultism, corruption, incessant strikes, examination malpractices, armed robbery, “419” and several other forms of atrocious crimes. Standard have, no doubt, fallen to the extent that certificates, which hitherto compared favourably with those issued by the best institutions anywhere, are now regarded as worthless almost everywhere.

  • Comment number 37.

    Yes, a degree is worth having all over the world. More so in Africa. Unfortunately because the population has outgrown the economy, not all degrees are worth having. Instead Africa should promote skills necessary to harness our own environment rather than pack youth into crowded university classrooms learning skills they'll never use!! At the same time we should start to tame our rate of population growth, as we seek ways to grow our economy.

  • Comment number 38.

    yes it is. i went to a polytechnic and yes i have a good job, working in another country actually. It took me 3yrs to earn my diploma, the same time could have gotten me an associate or even a bachelors degree in a first world country.

    A degree, education in fact should not be based on a short term, short sighted approach, but for the vision of living and functioning on a global and democratic world. Not on the politics of a country or a time period, and since when has the World bank been right about anything where Africa is concerned. I can name a lot of economies that nosedived at after implementing their biased road maps and think tank strategies

    Im studying for a degree now as employers still place emphasis on it over a technical diploma, and also the rest of the world esp first world countries think it more important. I think subjects and fields should be re-evaluated in terms of what needs a more academic and a more technical approach in terms of teaching methods.

    The quality of education does not matter because of geographical location, but per institute and organisation. Being in a developed country now, i meet so many academic retards, brain washed people who, read everything off the internet, and cant think outside the bounds of their fields of study, people shocked that Africans can speak English.

  • Comment number 39.

    The situation in Cameroon is horrendous. Corruption is so endemic in the job market. to gain admission in to professional schools your tribe, family name and connection plays a pivotal role. However, I think the primordial problem is the educational system. Africa is a land of opportunities and vast arrays of different natural resources. The educational systems in Africa doesn't address problems endemic to the people. The systems trains individuals for office jobs forgetting agricultural or field skills needed to convert raw materials to finish products. Agriculture or field work is painted as demeaning and most scholars after graduation aim for comfortable offices. the system doesn't train students to become independent entrepreneurs. Focus is placed on western ideologies, western industrial methods. Its high time we develop our own technology like the Asians and stop this over dependence on Europeans. After passage through the system most Africans want to travel abroad because the system still perpetrates the old colonial mentality. I think Africa needs a radical approach to its educational system. After graduation we tend to know more about European civilization and culture than ours or our nearest neighbor.

  • Comment number 40.

    I hold a masters degree in Communications, Media and Public Relations. In our contemporary world, a master’s degree is one of the basic requirements to be considered for especially international professional jobs. Whether or not an employee is competent, most employers probably feel satisfied to have people with degrees. I have told my nine-year-old daughter, Yeama, that she must have degrees and not marathon certificates and diplomas. I have a dozen certificates and diplomas but since employers and the public value degrees, I am going to soon enroll for another master’s degree.

    Sulaiman Momodu
    A Sierra Leonean in Monrovia, Liberia

  • Comment number 41.

    A degree is worth having in Africa although its Education is flooded mainly with theory and not practical. This would be certain if the existing type is followed sacredly and sincerely. We need a little brushing and technical aid to make it something better. You cannot believe that studying abroad did not challenge me like all the studies I undertook in Africa. I think I benefited just from gaining more exposure and maintaining the bold front. Studying depends on whom you are, how much do you value your books whether studying in Africa or not? Do you remember how much we burn the midnight candles in the hot weather without electricity? Do you cheat yourself thinking you are cheating anyone else or just blaming African Education? Should I ask; are you into Education of Money or Employment of Influence? The basis of African Education is simply built on British and American Education. The only thing that grips me with fear is the corruption also attached to African Education. It is actually a big stigma even to Economic development in terms of Unemployment. Those who got the brains in Africa sometimes end up not going to school because of same reason. The people we produce in this manner as graduates are the people who rule us in the same manner. How many African schools have Exchange programmes as the European Universities have to help themselves? How many teachers have been trained to the standard of their counterparts overseas? How many students have access to consistent internet even in University hostels? How many Lecturers use white board aids let alone the common Projector? How many foreign TEFL or TESOL teachers have been sent to teach in most African Universities or Language Courses geared towards this area in African Universities? Just as there are many African graduates who studied abroad without jobs, so are there in Africa. Even after most Africans have acquired European degrees, may be they still leave in Europe, still end up doing menial jobs or have none to do at all. There are many questions to ask that time may not permit me to ask all which would perfectly answer this purposeful question "Is a degree worth having in Africa?” Unfortunately, in the tribe where I come from in Africa, we answer questions with questions. So, I think culturally, I have climbed a little bit up to the ladder of answering this question.

  • Comment number 42.

    What kind of fallacy is this? I don’t get the message.
    Your title “Is a degree worth having in Africa?” sends a negative message because it is about half empty rather than half full. The reasoning given here “graduates are missing out on good jobs because university reaching does not place enough emphasis on practical skills” should not be good enough for any African student not get their degrees. I think who ever is posting this should focus more on how to push those universities to improve in their offerings of practical skills.

  • Comment number 43.

    Most people view Degrees or education in particular as a prerequiste for a job. The way I look at education is not only to get a job, but to create jobs and being a ware of our world and how we can make it a better place. I hailed from Suthern sudan,and most of our people look at education as a tool to getting goverment jobs while forgetting job creation.

  • Comment number 44.

    Education is misunderstood in most of the African countries as it would be misunderstood in Europe if it emanated from Africa.Having said this,i want believe that a degree is supposed to be of value in any place because attaining a high level of education is not only purposed to get you a financial stable employement,but in essence, it is supposed to equip your mind with the vital resources, that allow you to improve your community and to navigate this highly complex corporate world,that is rigged with all sorts of intellectual jargon and would otherwise be difficult to understand without learning.If more people in Africa continue to graduate from college,Africans will begin to deal with their local problems from a position of understanding.Let African graduates stop thinking a degree is only for employment, you don't need to go to school to be a slave but you need education to be a master.

  • Comment number 45.

    What a question! The next thing I expect is a question on whether it is important for Africans to think at all! To get a more intellectually stimulating conversation on Africa I suggest that the BBC seriously consider the significance of the questions it asks. In this case for example, a more interesting question would be to ask how Africa can make education more relevant to its situation or what the limitations of education are on the continent. This present question however, brings no important insight and I wonder what the point of it is.

  • Comment number 46.

    In our beloved country of Nigeria,having a degree is to either book in a place in the society as part of academicians or as a requirement to get a job.The requirement is not by the job but by the people. In other words the people you know requires you to get a degree for a job just for record purposes and not what the job demends from you.As a matter of fact,you can pay your way through financially in Nigeria to get a degree. Nigeria is the only country i know that fresh graduate cannot pass primary school exam let alone defend that degree.Traders and business men can get a degree while in their shops and wharehouses as long as they have got the money to pay through.

  • Comment number 47.

    Is a degree worth having in Africa?

    The answer is an absolute YES, even though we know that nepotism exist in Africa just like in every other continent, but the problem here is from the leadership culture.

    Can you imagine our workforce if our leaders were smart enough to engage in the business of investing not just in the extraction and selling but also in the processing of our natural resources, development of the manufacturing sectors and exportation of “Finished Products”?
    Do you know...?
    1. How many products are made from one barrel of oil?
    2. How many companies we could’ve had?
    3. How many industries we could’ve owned and control?
    4. How many millions could’ve been employed?

    We have the Raw materials and the potential of turning our abundance natural wealth into a thriving export. But, the problem that persists is the short sighted 20/80 trade agreements and business deals by illiterate African leaders who are wasting our natural resources in exchange for railroad constructions while the buyers are reaping billions and creating thousands of jobs for its citizens from the RAW materials. If that’s doesn’t make you think, what about Africans paying exorbitant fees and taxes to buy back the finish product from these countries, some dying or maltreated in places like China during the process.

    Now you see why we need more EDUCATED MINDS & VISIONARIES for the development and unity of the continent. Understand also, education gives you the upper hand to challenge the status quo. Your rights are not going to be given to you. They never has, they'll never be. But, be ready to put up a fight, for the change we need could be you, and for now...Keep studying.

    JD/MA

  • Comment number 48.

    A degree is really worth in Africa but it depends on what type of degree. Our colonial masters, especially in Ghana, set up our education system but it appears to have outlived its importance. Almost 80% of graduates come out from the tertiary institutions. They then end up always looking up to the central government for job creation but have forgotten that the democratic system we are in now means job creation is not from the government. Untill we change and focus more on the technical institutions and upgrade it to match university levels, degrees will always be worthless. In Canada and most advance countries, educated trades people are highly respected in society but in Ghana, trades people are considered as under-class due to the educational system setup.

  • Comment number 49.

    To say a degree is certainly not worth having in Africa [as some comments here suggest] is a bit overboard. In my opinion, I think the question would be better answered if it went this way: What sort of degree is worth having in Africa? My answer, then, would be ALL DEGREES. Africa suffers from EVERYTHING. The problem though, is, who will employ you if your name is not from the "leader's tribe"? Who will buy you the job if your relative doesn't put in a good word for you? Come to think of it, the word needs not to be 'good' . . . Relative=Qualified. People call it culture, I call it tribalism and the best road to failure.
    For example, having a Journalism/Writing degree [my all-time love] is almost redundant in certain parts of Africa (redundant, not worthless). Redundant because some old, big-bellied politician will drum your pen nonsense if you dare write 'what they don't like'. I come from a country where 'calls are made' and an article is ambushed, if you know what I mean. If you are into human rights (another good area) you can very well expect a "road/plane accident". If you are lucky, you come out alive.
    Africa [read 'corruption pot'] needs a new vision, if that is even attainable. A vision that provides education AND makes use it. Sadly, this is not just about to happen, unless heavens come down and we wipe out silly ethnic alliances. Africa does have smart people, but there is not much room to use those brains. The rooms are 'managed' by 'top caretakers'. Leonardo DiCaprio summarised it as "TIA" in Blood Diamond. This Is Africa. Why do you think Africans study abroad and stay to work for "abroad"? My answer would be 'you do not bite the hand that feeds you'. Coward, maybe, but, my opinion; not Africans' opinion.

  • Comment number 50.

    A degree always worth something in Africa. It is not also easy to get one.

  • Comment number 51.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 52.

    Doesn't anyone these days -- in Africa or anywhere else -- think a university education is worth having for its own sake?
    Even if I ended up unemployed, I would be all the better for having the mental resources a degree should give me.

  • Comment number 53.

    A DEGREE?
    It’s so pathetic that most of International jobs spend so much advertising their vacancies by getting at least skilled and Educated people. This trendsetter should be emulated by quirky organizations that don't care whether somebody has skills or education.

    Besides, Africans are very intelligent and Innovative people only that their depleting University facilities due to corruption, negligence and ignorance to tap skill spiral the whole sop. Its so sad to find that having a Masters degree or PhD for example can land you no where in Africa despite extensive skills and knowledge in your career. As many people have written above, I feel so saddened that this is happening in 21st Century Africa. The reverse code has been ignored hence making our academic platforms unexplored and useless otherwise.

    Being a University graduate in Africa is the same as High school Diploma graduate as long as the "know who" that the "know How" are separated. Many women have been forced to have sex with their bosses to secure jobs or retain them! This is something we can’t urge about due to its plain truth. For a Man of the same academic level, it might take you ages to lay your hands on any job if worse, none for the coming decades.

    Nairobi is the best case study for this. Many professional women have now preferred being skillful other than what their degrees entail for Example a Biochemist of a Pharmacologist being a Marketing Manager, hence leaving out the truly endured and trained people in that field to have an equal opportunity of job places, just because of cheap, careless and "STUPID" sex. This has been extensively been always discussed in many boardrooms but due to greed and desire to satisfy our own need, leads to unprofessional hiring’s, hence making either the victims eventually spread AIDS or the Companies CLOSE DOWN due to unprofessionalism.

    One thing I would like to advise my fellow Africans is that, responsibility starts from you and not the "SEX PEST" who are just there for a short while. If we keep this rolling, we will eventually revolutionise the way employers look at out Degrees and be able to give us DUE RESPECT where it calls. For young Men in Africa, things hardly change fast not unless you are corruptly "NETWOKED" like "GREEDY INTERNET". This has to come to an end…For heavenly sake!

    Finally, as I said, being a fact, Africans are very bright people. If given good facilities and environment excel, they can truly do the undoable on Earth. KEEP THE DEGREES ASIDE FROM YOUR BODIES. It will be so absurd to crying of people deign of AIDS when few have chosen the path to spread with a name of attaining jobs.

    What of when you have sex with your boss and the job END after 3 months? Who looks more foolish? Re affirming our need for equality should be a walk but not just a talk of it.

    CHEERS!
    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 54.

    A DEGREE? ….NOT IN THE AFRICA I KNOW TODAY, SHOULD BE IN THE FUTURE!

    It’s so pathetic that most of International jobs spend so much advertising their vacancies by getting at least skilled and Educated people. This trendsetter should be emulated by quirky organizations that don't care whether somebody has skills or education.

    Besides, Africans are very intelligent and Innovative people only that their depleting University facilities due to corruption, negligence and ignorance to tap skill spiral the whole swap. Its so sad to find that having a Masters degree or PhD for example can land you no where in Africa despite extensive skills and knowledge in your career. As many people have written above, I feel so saddened that this is happening in 21st Century Africa. The reverse code has been ignored hence making our academic platforms unexplored and useless otherwise.

    Being a University graduate in Africa is the same as High school Diploma graduate as long as the "know who" that the "know How" are separated. Many women have been forced to have sex with their bosses to secure jobs or retain them! This is something we can’t urgue about due to its plain truth. For a Man of the same academic level, it might take you ages to lay your hands on any job, if worse none, for the coming decades.

    Nairobi is the best case study for this. Many professional women have now preferred being skillful other than what their degrees entail for Example a Biochemist of a Pharmacologist being a Marketing Manager, hence leaving out the truly endured and trained people in that field to have an equal opportunity of job places, just because of cheap, careless and "STUPID" sex. This has been extensively been always discussed in many boardrooms but due to greed and desire to satisfy our own need, leads to unprofessional hiring’s, hence making either the victims eventually spread AIDS or the Companies CLOSE DOWN due to unprofessionalism.

    One thing I would like to advise my fellow Africans is that, responsibility starts from you and not the "SEX PEST" who are just there for a short while. If we keep this rolling, we will eventually revolutionise the way employers look at out Degrees and be able to give us DUE RESPECT where it calls. For young Men in Africa, things hardly change fast not unless you are corruptly "NETWOKED" like "GREEDY INTERNET". This has to come to an end…For heavenly sake!

    Finally, as I said, being a fact, Africans are very bright people. If given good facilities and environment to excel, they can truly do the undoable on Earth. JUST KEEP THE DEGREES away FROM YOUR BODIES. It will be so absurd to see people deing of AIDS when few have chosen the path to spread with a name of attaining jobs.

    What of when you have sex with your boss and the job END after 3 months? Who looks more foolish? Re affirming our need for equality should be a walk but not just a talk of it.

    CHEERS!
    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 55.

    The present government cabinet in the UK is a year group from Eton college. Entry to Oxford and Cambridge is for the connected elite. The key jobs are for who you know everywhere in the world.
    The idea that Africa is somehow the only place where being connected matters is a fallacy.
    Patronising questions like this would look stupid in any other geographical context even though you cant get a job in India or China or Russia or South America or the USA or the UK without knowing the right people.
    The subtle point of the question is to reinforce the "Corrupt African" stereotype.

  • Comment number 56.

    This question is quite interesting. Dream jobs and real jobs should be differentiated.
    The search for a 'dream' job might have nothing to do with what you've studied in school While life throws an oddball or two your way and you realize you don't even want to do what you studied.
    In Africa, education is valued but the educational institutions have lagged behind in research and content. You cannot give what you don't have and the institutions don't have it. They cannot compete with what is available in the rest of the world.
    Africans dream big but unfortunately they do nothing about it,and that is just the problem.

  • Comment number 57.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 58.

    For me , a degree is sometimes meaning less. The problem starts from the universities.They are not producing competent candidates. I joined 4 universities and i observed this problem.It is poverty that is making things like this. I personally decided not to join a university in my country coz it is waste of time.

  • Comment number 59.

    In Africa, it is highly unfortunate that the tertiary sub-sector has, today, been turned to ivory tower of vices rather than of knowledge. The University and Polytechnics, in particular, are now notorious for cultism, corruption, incessant strikes, examination malpractices, armed robbery, “419” and several other forms of atrocious crimes. Standard have, no doubt, fallen to the extent that certificates, which hitherto compared favourably with those issued by the best institutions anywhere, are now regarded as worthless almost everywhere. Students do not want to do serious study. Staffers are willing and ready to compromise standards during admissions and examinations. The product of such a vicious circle is a sub-standard graduate that cannot fit in as a productive member of the nation’s manpower.

  • Comment number 60.

    Let those who have the aptitude for a degree go for it. That's the only thing I can say about obtaining a degree for now.

    Going to any of the eight schools of Ivy League guarantees you a plum job. But it is not like that in Africa any more. As a little boy I dreamt going to the University of Ibadan, Nigeria's premier institution of higher learning because it was then considered a distinguished school. I eventually made it, against all odds. Nevertheless, going there does not mean you are going to make it fast.

    My conclusion is that the university is not the chief determining factor of what you will be in life.

  • Comment number 61.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    9. At 9:19pm on 25 May 2010, RogerII wrote:
    What a staggeringly bigoted question. I always had a sneaky suspicion that some of the BBC's reporting was by closet bigots, frankly, this question proves it.
    I look forward to your next question, probably something along the lines of "Are Africans intellectually inferior to Europeans?"
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    I could not agree with you more on this RogerII.

  • Comment number 62.

    BBC, I cannot say this enough but AFRICA is a CONTINENT and NOT a country. I am sure you well-educated, broad-minded and well-travelled folks at the the BBC know this....? Stop asking such unintellingent, bigotted and generelizing questions. It is annoying and does not show of good journalism. Is a degree worth having in Africa..?? You really should up your game.

  • Comment number 63.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 64.

    Recently a World Bank report in my country Kenya said the country is losing out on big opportunities to export professionals due to the nature of its education system which emphasises more on theory than practical skills.The report indicated that international Service markets such as the US, Europe and the EAC region which Kenya targets to export its professional services “were increasingly demanding practical skills, a development that is locking out thousands of Kenyan graduatesThis will mean that my country is not going to be competitive enough and be at par with the regional blocks and even the international markets.This is due to our Universities and professional institutions offering more of theoretical education at the expense of hands on which is key in employment.Many of students in our universities only think of passing examinations as opposed to meaningful learning which as a result brings out half-baked graduates.Professional churned out of our universities in the fields of Accounting, Architecture, Engineering, Legal services, ICT and IT related services are proving to be wanting when confronted with the dictates of the job market. Majority of the students who leave our Law schools cannot even do basic drafting leave alone interpret the law.It leaves a lot to desire and one wonders whether they bought their way to graduation.Many lawyers in Kenya are less qualified to export legal services because most have not acquired the international experience that can only be gained through internationally known firms.The pupilage and internships done locally focus only on the basic criminal cases which do not have international jurisprudence which is key. There is also the lack of professional tailor made trainings which are core in continuous development of a person in the country. Reputable professional outfits like Kenya Institute of Management, Kenya School of Law, Kenya College of Accountancy and School of Journalism have all gone commercial admitting huge numbers of students at the expense of inculcating continuous development of market oriented people.Something needs to be done.

  • Comment number 65.

    Any education is worth a lot. Although having a degree doesn't spell success either. Next question?

 

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