Shaping up learners’ skills after secondary level

Educational Journey with EPHAT MUDENDA
NOT all school-leavers proceed to college and university after completing their five-year secondary school journey.
Though some students face grave financial challenges at family level which hinder them from progressing academically, others simply do not plan to go to college, but want to follow a more untraditional path. This is where the issue of skill-sets, together with academics, plays a significant role in the lives of some learners.
Teachers and parents can only be sure about young ones who do not plan on attending college or university if they take time to find out what their plans and goals for the future are. This will make it easier for parents and guardians not only to ensure progress for our children, as we help them one-on-one in terms of making career choices, but also letting them understand the importance of having some post-secondary training – something beyond the Grade 12 level.
It does not have to be a college diploma or a Bachelor’s degree from a traditional university. However, though such qualifications are not for everyone, children in secondary schools should be effectively helped to have a ‘post-secondary plan’. It could be starting a business, enrolling in a trade school, the military, or police service among others.
For entrepreneurial students, the country’s youth policies should be able to offer an environment that allows them to engage in income-generating ventures, whether in groups or as individuals, in terms of small-scale enterprises. For instance, youth funds already in place must be accessible to school-leavers who do not want to go to college, but want to venture into business after secondary education. And as they run various business, young people should be encouraged to shape their skills in institutions such as trades schools.
Awareness of all youth-friendly programmes initiated by Government and other stakeholders is as important as letting young people be aware of their rights with regard to participation in the socio-economic development of the country. Therefore, school-leavers should not be left out of the developmental programmes that affect their wellbeing.
If there are school-going children – under your care as a parent or a teacher – who are particularly gifted in the arts, for example, pursuing a career in music, fine arts, photography, graphic arts, or even acting, among others, would be ideal. Of course, in a developing country like Zambia, this industry has not yet been fully developed. Here, again, deliberate policies by Government to promote this sector could definitely prove to be a perfect area where out-of-school youth can develop their potential and add value to the wellbeing of society.
There is need to develop infrastructure that should serve as training centres to enhance skills in different spheres among the youth. As a result, the levels of unemployment can be drastically reduced and most vices young people engage in can be effectively curbed. A good example is sport, which has helped youths who have embraced it fully, many even at professional level, to earn a good living both for themselves and their families. For those with some education it is actually an added advantage.
Depending on their areas of interest, some students who do not plan to enter traditional institutions of higher learning can be encouraged to look to establishments such as the army, the police, the air force, etc., which can be a great path towards one’s career development. People gain invaluable life experiences, the pride of protecting the country, as well as developing real, valuable skills they use to venture into other jobs later in life.
Learning and perfecting a trade is a great alternative to college or university. One can be a plumber, a bricklayer, an electrician, or a chef, among many other trades. Vocational school is also a wonderful option. After all, the world is always in need of trades and careers known to humanity.

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