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Revive career guidance in schools

I have over the past two weeks received several WhatsApp messages from some of the readers of this column.

Inside Track with Grace Mutandwa

Some want relationship advice but a growing number of young people want to know requirements for various courses.

There are young women who want to do journalism, law or marketing.

Sadly, most of them are already at the end of their high school education and focusing on subjects that might not tally with their desired careers.

Years ago I took my daughter out of one high school because the school head refused to allow her to do the subjects that would allow her to do her chosen degree programme.

She scored highly in both science and arts subjects but was forced into the sciences when she kept on saying she wanted to do arts.

I did not want my daughter to be forced to end up in a career she felt no passion for so I set about talking to heads of other good high schools and she ended up in a school that nurtured her dream.

The young women who have written to me are in some cases doing subjects best suited for fields they have no interest in. It seems there is no career guidance offered in schools and many young people are confused about what they should study to be eligible for certain degree or diploma programmes.

I have asked a few high school teachers who told me that their main focus was to teach and get the students to pass as many Ordinary Level or Advanced Level subjects as possible. The teachers are more results-oriented and do not put much thought into the future professional needs of the students.

Parents should support their children’s interests

Some years ago, the British Council and Prince Edward Secondary School in the capital used to hold a career guidance day.

The American Embassy’s Information Centre has programmes for young people who would like to study in America.

But again all these programmes are ill-timed for some of the young people because they come at a time when they would have already settled on subjects that might not fit in with their chosen degree programmes.

Parents should also take an interest in the tertiary needs of their children. Find out what your children are passionate about and give them the necessary moral support.

We still have some parents who force their children to become doctors, teachers or marketing people because it is what they as parents expect of their children.

It is better to support your child in his or her chosen career path. Most young people in “careers of convenience” are not happy. A happier person is a happier service provider.

It is not always easy for young people to zero in on what they want to do but when they do, they need the support of the adults around them. You should take interest in your children’s interests from a very early age.

If your child is not academically gifted, find out what it is the child is good at and nurture that talent. Not every child is going to be a doctor, lawyer or award-winning journalist but that does not take away the potentially good things that each child can contribute to the world.

Grace Mutandwa is a communications specialist, media trainer, author and a mentor of young female journalists. She can be reached on email: Twitter: GraceMutandwa1

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