Impromptu interviews with youngsters who attended this years’ Tertiary Education Fair and Career Guidance, hosted by the Human Resources Development Council were telling.
A majority of prospective higher education learners said no career coaching had ever occurred during their 12 years of basic schooling. Seno Bogosi embarked on a long journey from Gantsi to Gaborone to attend the fair. Although his elementary teachers gave him a pat on the back for excelling, he had no exposure to career guidance. “We were always asked what we aspire to be as grown-ups, but that was all. Teachers never really looked at our strengths and advised what professions best suit our abilities,” he says.
He adds that the local education system is crafted, thus, learners’ potential and abilities do not determine destiny, but it is the Form 5 results that dictate what one becomes. “This is wrong, it is the reason people end up doing jobs they are not really passionate about, just because their final results sent them there.”
Finding their way
Though he always excelled in Science, he achieved a “B” symbol for Pure Sciences and an “A” for Social Studies, a subject he never liked that much. He applied for entrance into health and science-related disciplines at the University of Botswana. His other option was to study for a Bachelor of Doctor Assistant degree with a local health college.
Meanwhile, Bokamoso Ketlametswe says basic education teachers invited people from industry to address prize- giving ceremonies but this was not adequate. Furthermore, teachers encouraged learners when transitioning from junior to senior school level to assess their capabilities and choose optional subjects wisely. Some of the extra subjects which learners are supposed to choose have been hailed as great entry points to the world of practical work and entrepreneurship, such as Fashion and Fabrics, Food and Nutrition, Design and Technology, Commerce, Computer Studies and Agriculture.
She is now awaiting acceptance into the Institute of Health Sciences to study pharmacy.
“I think as limited as career guidance was from our basic teachers, I would say they gave me a picture and now the fair has showcased the reality part of the equation. But had we been made aware and nurtured along our passions, it could have made a huge difference,” she says.
According to 19 year-old Carol Kothao from Bobonong, “there was never career coaching or guidance.” Her teachers never talked to them about career aspirations and goals. However, she recalls a regional career fair which was held in Selibe Phikwe while she was in junior secondary school.“It really wouldn’t qualify as career guidance and coaching though, it was just another event that lacked depth, and a once off thing which I didn’t learn much from. There must be consistency, and a variety of professionals to speak to us and where possible, mentorship,” she says.
Carol wants to pursue a career in nursing or computer science. She learnt computers while at senior school, and has realised that not many people are qualified to work with computers. She says she wants to practice and gain experience before starting her own business as she acknowledges theory and practice are both critical.
Japhta Radibe boasts 24 years of teaching experience.
Now an educational consultant, he says there is minimal career coaching at schools. “This is because teachers have not been trained to provide career guidance. It is vital that such skills are instilled in teachers, to enable them to offer learners industrial experience,” he says.
Radibe says more could be achieved in the labour and business space if learners were skilled in looking at career choices. Schools need to have well equipped libraries where detail information about all available professions is available to learners.
He explains that thorough assessments of learners’ abilities need to be undertaken, with a more practical approach, to make learning enjoyable and exciting to students. Furthermore, guidance teachers must be well-trained as career coaches if the local system wants to develop future professionals who are truly passionate about their disciplines.