Education preference and choice

A few months ago, the press in Kenya wrote about high school graduates who had qualified for university but did not apply to join, some of them choosing to go to TVET institutions. This has been a trend for the last few years now, and it has become apparent that with a TVET diploma, one has a better chance of landing a job than with a university degree.

Interestingly, there are those who think a TVET education is inferior and would insist that their children go to university, even when they clearly would prefer not to pursue an academic degree. Why is this so?

The first thing that comes to mind in answer to that question is perception. There seems to be a generally accepted perception that vocational education is inferior to university education. For starters, the admission criteria for TVET institutions is the grade earned – not one’s interest, preference or dexterity. The notion is that you get into TVET when you fail to make the university cut. It is no wonder, then, that the high school graduates who “qualified” for university and chose not to apply are said to have “snubbed” the university.

Clearly, there are pull and push reasons at play here. The pull towards TVET could be attributed to economic considerations, as more and more employers prefer to hire diploma holders, because of the skills oriented training. It could also be that learners realize the importance of choosing and deciding what education is suited to their needs, and what will give them the outcomes they want, rather than following a system. The key is to have clarity and be well informed. The question is do those around them honour the learner’s decision to pursue the path they have chosen without judgement?


During this global week of action on SDGs (#ACT4SDGs) Cogent Afrique, in collaboration with the Global Youth Forum, is championing conversations on SDG4 – quality education, SDG 8 – decent work and economic growth and SDG 17 – partnership for the goals.

We would like to engage with learners, graduates and learning institutions on these SDGs and we invite you to join the conversation here on our website and on social media. You can also click here to participate in our action or register your own action.