In 2016, Jullient Anyango graduated from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) with a degree (second class) in industrial biotechnology.
She hoped to get employment immediately after but now, four years down the line, she is yet to ‘reap from what she has sown’.
Her WhatsApp status and Instagram pages are full of photo’s of second hand clothes to enable her earn a living.
She is now let to wonder whether her time at Jomo Kenyetta University of Agriculture and Technology was a waste of time and money.
To put it into context, Anyango says it took her four long years, more than US$5,000 in tuition fees and accommodation and strenuous hours of lectures and exams for me to finally complete the course and graduate.
But the the Kenyan job market does not seem to have any more room for the thousands of graduates churned out each year.
Over time, there has been growing concern among biotechnology students in Kenya over the lack of job opportunities in the field, and this has left many of them wondering whether the course was worth their time.
She has “lost count” of the number of application letters she has mailed or personally presented to potential employers, “none of which has ever been replied to”.
She joins Kenya’s large number of graduates who have been left jobless and forced to find other means of survival.
Many, like Anyango, delved into unrelated careers that can keep them going as they wait for opportunities in their study field. But for how long will they have to wait?
“The sad part is that I had friends who had done the same course ahead of me and were struggling to get jobs, but nothing could stop me from applying for the same – maybe they were just unlucky, I told myself.
“In a class of 60 students, only two of us were fortunate enough to land work,” Anyango said, adding that she wished someone had advised her against taking the course.
JKUAT is considered to be one of the best universities for students looking to join the field of science and technology in East Africa.
A course in biotechnology requires a student to have a minimum grade of C+ at JKUAT and each year, thousands of biotechnology students graduate in the hope of finding work in their fields.
Employment opportunities in the Industry
Some of the institutions in Kenya that student’s hope to get employed in include: Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, Kenya Forestry Research Institute, Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute, Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis, and the Kenya Sugar Research Foundation, part of the Kenyan Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation.
In an interview with University World News, Dr Kevin Mbogo, a lecturer in the biotechnology department at JKUAT, said that universities have the capability and resources to train their students in the field, but there was a limited number of research institutes that could offer students more opportunities.
Saada Mangi, is a biotechnology student currently in her third year at JKUAT, and already has developed worries about her future once she graduates.
“I wanted to study medicine but missed the cut-off mark by one point. Since I opted for the Joint Admission Board (JAB) sponsorship, I was forced to accept the course that it had selected for me,” Mangi says.
JAB is a government body mandated to grant university sponsorships to all high school graduates who have achieved a certain grade (currently B plain) in their Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exams.
She says she intends to go for a nursing diploma once I graduate so as to at least, have a chance at landing a job.
Slightly Edited from University World News