By Daisy Nandeche Okoti
Published March 12, 2015
It is no longer uncommon to come across a journalism graduate who cannot write a book review; a film and theatre technology graduate who has never held a camera in his hands; law graduate who cannot coherently express herself at an interview or a communication student who cannot write a CV. Unskilled graduates. Unemployable graduates. That’s what they are.
But to what can this be attributed to? That’s the question a Kenyan Non-Governmental Organisation known as Global e-Schools and Communities Initiative (GESCI) through its flagship program, African Knowledge Exchange (AKE) set out to answer when it on March 9, 2015 brought together industry experts, professionals as well as friends and partners in an open dialogue to discuss the issues facing cultural industries and to contribute to the development of effective strategies for the development of this sector in Kenya.
According to GESCI that is collaborating with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Finland, to identify new technology-driven training scenarios that enable new skills development, which will facilitate employment and job creation in the emerging knowledge societies in Africa, the changes to which education and training need to respond to include globalisation, the demands of growing knowledge-based industries and services, and the use of new technologies and new media products and services.
Through its African Knowledge Exchange (AKE) flagship, GESCI has developed a new and innovative training model which facilitates industry-standard digital media skills, and entrepreneurial abilities that lead on to small enterprise creation in the cultural industries arena through accessing the various supports that exist for start-ups in the digital creative media sector.
This was what GESCI introduced to the people gathered in Nairobi for its policy forum dubbed ‘Linking New Skills, Business Opportunity and Job Creation for Cultural Industry Development in Africa’.
It is as if GESCI were trying to implement a solution for the problem of lack of sync between training and the market demands when they came up with a program that trains young professionals in the areas of music production, game design and animation to create content that is culturally relevant. This programme is designed in a way that encompasses all the other aspects of professionalism in the careers because the idea behind the training that the young people are given because the training that is expected to serve not just the present but the future as well.
Jerome Morrissey, the C.E.O of GESCI in his welcome speech, urged the youth to rise up and take the opportunity of the existing technologies to create content that is not only culturally sound but also relevant and responsive to the changing needs of the society because only then, can our content producers benefit from the reality that the cultural and creative are the fastest growing industries in the world because of the need to answer to the constantly changing trends in the society in which we live today as well as create a connectionbetween the cultures of the past and the present.
But for this to happen successfully, a link must be created between education, innovation and the job market. Education must be approached in a new and innovative way to respond to the current trends and needs such as innovation, content creation, leadership, globalisation and sustainability.
In today’s world, ICT is central and it has become paramount that students be impacted with skills that can enable one to navigate the digital world.
“Practical skills and education should not exist separately,” said Dr MinnaAslava a communicator and researcher at the Aalto Living Lab, a project that is run to assess the feasibility of the GESCI project. This lack of connection between the market needs and the education given in schools is one of the main ills that afflict the education system today, a fact that arises from fact that there has been little evolution in our school curricula to accommodate as well as emphasise the changing needs of the society such as the creative industry which is a major employer of the youth today. Areas such as content creation, policy formation, leadership and vision as well as sustainability are some of the key areas that creative people looking to take seriously to the industry must critically understand and put into action if they hope to make breakthrough in the industry even as they wait for major changes in the education curriculum to accommodate these new needs.