Degrees Do Not Work


There was a time when I was on the verge of achieving what most journalists in the country aspire to: to work for a particular institution of choice.
But believe me folks I blew it. Both the prospective employer and myself contributed to my not getting the job.
I believe I screwed up the chance myself, but to a large extent it was the employer who threw spanners in the works. How, one might ask? Well, it was the criteria the employer used by which mechanism determined recruitment potential. I was put sorely to test and my lack let me down.
I discovered that the employer was looking for a degree holder, and since I currently do not hold any they decided I was not suitable for the job.
This not withstanding, the fact is that the unmerciful gods of stammering visited me right at the time a question was floated towards me. I consequently was unable to prove my ability on the panel of my broad command of spoken English.
I really should have performed much better than what I demonstrated.
One of the clever ladies in the panel simply asked me why I thought I wanted to work for the organization.
Recalling how I hummed and hawed, I still do not remember ever doing anything like that before in all the years of my tenancy on this planet and only the panel can give an explanation of what I was making was attempting to convey.
However, it is my belief that my terrible performance there did not come from the fact that I am yet to attain a degree qualification.
This is why I believe setting a degree as criteria, besides being discriminatory presupposes the determination of ability and capacity in a mocking way.
In this profession I had an opportunity of working not only in a newsroom set-up, where you brush shoulders with colleagues from different corridors of journalism training including some universities, but working with many different academics outside newsrooms as well.
Some degree holders still think in the past tense of buy is ‘buyed’ and they’ve never heard of the word bought. And is this not a problem?
In news writing we follow a particular pattern once indicated to be in the grasp of State President Bingu Mutharika [spare me the ‘wa’] of the 5Ws and H that our esteemed guys do not know about.
This is beside the point. The fact of the matter is that most of the guys who have made it big in most newsrooms never had the initial opportunity to obtain a degree be it from a university. Most still don’t.
It is therefore strange for government to prescribe institutions from where one should get qualification if they are to be employed as civil servants in an administrative capacity.
Attaining education is expensive and although there is no way quality can be compromised with inexpensive courses offered in some institutions that are not recognized by Government and the employer in question, there is no way everybody could go through the corridors of a university.
It has been tried, tested and proven beyond any reasonable doubt that most of the journalists who are linchpins in some of the most reputable newsrooms went through their courses in the ‘unrecognized’ institutions of experience.
This proves a point that degrees, though highly prized for any corporate growth do not necessarily mean optimum delivery.
Suffice to add, the degree criteria is discrimination of the highest order. It is discrimination against, first the poor who cannot afford proper higher learning and, secondly, it is discriminatory against the least educated who also need to earn a decent salary.
It is understandable for private companies to set these high faluting criteria for success because they do so justifiably, to protect their investment; but it does not augur well for Government.
As a citizen, what I have is not only my basic rights, which must include a right to appropriate education, but also expectations as well that my government will take necessarily measures to ensure that I have satisfactorily exercise the right to appropriate gainful employment if the education right is lacking through no fault of my own.
It is therefore amiss for the government to expect to employ me only when I have graduated from University when it only allows for 1,000 places out of the needed 50,000 places that citizens demand.
The most disheartening aspect about this whole thing is that the same government does not recognize my qualification, which has equally the same components I would have studied had I been given a university place in the first instance. It was through no lack of trying on my part that I am lacking in qualifications now.
Right now I have undertaken study but, and this is the crunch – government and other employers do not recognize the institution that trained me and awarded me my qualification.
The question begs an answer: Why allow institutions to operate and offer training when their certificates, diplomas and degrees are not acceptable?
Is this a Fair Deal, would you say?

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About Gregory Gondwe - Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Gregory Gondwe is a Malawian journalist who started practising journalism in 1993. Until March 31, 2012 he was regional editor and bureau chief for Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS). Gregory is also a media consultant assisting several international journalists pursuing assignments in Malawi. He holds a Diploma of Journalism and an Intermediate Certificate in Journalism among other media-related certificates. He is also columnist for Malawi's first and oldest weekly, Malawi News. He can be contacted on gregorygondwe@gmail.com.
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