One in every four young people in Kenya want to leave and relocate to another country — preferably the US — because they feel that the US and European countries have better opportunities for them.
This is according to the Next Generation Kenya survey that was conducted by the British Council early this year.
The study, which sampled 4,104 Kenyans aged between 15 and 24 across the 47 counties, notes that Kenyan youth are worried about some of the goings on in the country.
Corruption is one of them. In fact, a young man from Turkana was quoted saying; “If you want to be successful in Kenya, you have to give up some morals.”
Among the biggest challenges faced by the youth, according to this study, is lack of employment opportunities (67 per cent), financial difficulties (40 per cent), drug and alcohol abuse (30 per cent), lack of access to good education (22 per cent), hardships in life (21 per cent) and corruption at 10 per cent.
It is not difficult to see why the youth want to leave this country, never to return. In a country where young people have grown up being taught that “education is the key to success”, too many of them have broken their backs in school cramming formulas and facts just to pass exams because we have been told that if you fail in KCPE or KCSE, your life is over.
Because not every child is bright enough to get over 400 marks and secure a seat in a national school, many children’s hearts have been crushed and have lived their teenage years feeling useless just because they could not attain top marks.
For those in high school, you are told that you either get an A or live the rest of your life as a failure. So young people spend copious amounts of their time cramming the entire syllabus to reproduce the same things in exams — which by the way, they forget the moment they are done with exams — because you can cram things only for so long.
Some of them will do anything to get that A, including going against their personal values and cheating, because the Kenyan system has no room for failures, especially academic failures.
So they go to the university, knowing all too well that they did not earn that A grade; that they cheated their way around the system. They tell themselves it is no big deal; this is Kenya and nobody ever succeeds by following the rules.
And then one day, after university they get a job — probably through an uncle who knows a guy who knows a guy in that company. They they happen to watch the NYS scandal unravel.
A young woman, barely in her 30s had Sh60 million wired to her account all because she knew the right people, had the right connections and the godfathers we have all been praying for.
The young people realise how stupid they have been all these years; that this “education is the key to success” mantra is utter nonsense and that in this country, it is not an education that you need, nor a great skill, but that corruption is the key to success.
Our country, as it is right now, has made it clear to young people that hard work, dedication and self-sacrifice are just loads of nonsense that we are taught in school.
When young people see on television how people just magically got Sh15 million in their accounts by sitting back and knowing the right people, it sends a strong message that you don’t need to slave for a company for 30 years to get your pension and enjoy a good life. All you have to do is steal, steal and steal some more.
It is no wonder that young people are the biggest perpetrators of fraud, forgery and all kinds of shortcuts like gambling and transactional sex.
That is why young women fall into traps of so called “sponsors” for quick cash, because sitting in class and studying until 3am will only get you a degree. A degree cannot pay rent, cannot buy a house in Kiuna Estate and certainly cannot buy you a sleek black Toyota Landcruiser.
For the young people who are reading this and feeling my bitterness, should you ever get an opportunity to work and live outside this corruption-ridden country, I urge you, please, go for it.
Go for it with everything you have. Use your skills to build that country, because in this country, young people are unappreciated. At least for now.