They stand on the edge of uncertainty, ready to step into a world that never prepared them for what comes next. As the curtains draw on another academic year, excitement and anticipation fill graduates. These talented young individuals have dedicated years of hard work and perseverance and are now ready to embark on their professional journeys. Yet, no clear paths await them, and the road ahead remains unwritten. As they venture into this vast unknown and ready to begin their uncharted journeys, society must provide the support, resources, and open arms that will help them find and build their own way forward.
Recently, a new regulation mandates all undergraduates must undergo an exit exam before receiving their degrees. This nationwide initiative, implemented for the first time, has sparked extensive debate and discussion among students across the country.
Although the intention behind the exams is to ensure academic proficiency and workforce readiness, they have triggered unease and anxiety among graduates, altering the dynamics of their joyous occasion.
Among the aspiring graduates is Selamawit Tibebe, a determined Economics student who recently completed her final semester. After dedicating years to her education, Selamawit eagerly looked forward to starting her professional journey. However, the unexpected exit exams disrupted her aspirations, adding stress and uncertainty during this transition period.
Selamawit has concerns about the impact on her degree eligibility. “This exam holds the key to our degrees. It decides if we participate in graduation, as only those passing will be eligible,” she said.
The sudden introduction of a new exam format has further complicated challenges, leaving students and teachers grappling with the unfamiliar.
Selamawit expressed her frustration over changing test subjects that kept giving them limited and delayed information. “Within a year, we learned about this never-before administered exam,” she says.
Despite exam uncertainties, Selamawit and classmates recognize the importance of preparing as best they can. Balancing exam study, assignments, final papers, and other tests, they feel ready. However, hopes recently dimmed with news of no government jobs available, casting doubt on immediate career prospects. Many feel dispirited and uncertain about their next path.
Afomia Yilma, a recent graduate of Hayat Medical College, diligently studied for exit exams hoping to secure a promising job. Witnessing peers struggle to pass and find work, she postponed her job search until after exams. However, news of scarce government vacancies shattered her aspirations.
“I lost all motivation to secure a good job after learning of the vacancies,” Afomia says.
Afomia’s predicament echoes that of graduates across the country navigating a challenging job market with limited entry-level positions. After investing efforts and energy acquiring qualifications, these talented individuals now confront the harsh reality of an uncertain future.
As graduation nears, the resilience and determination students have demonstrated amidst uncertainties should be acknowledged. They dedicated years acquiring knowledge and skills to prepare for successful careers and brighter futures. Now, society holds a collective responsibility to support and empower graduates navigating challenges.
Creating opportunities through mentorship programs, entrepreneurship initiatives and collaboration between educators, government and businesses are crucial steps bridging the education-to-employment gap.
By investing in career development and cultivating a supportive system, these talented graduates can be empowered to realize their potential and meaningfully contribute to society.
Semehal Getachew, pursuing a career unrelated to her degree, says career paths should not be limited to government jobs or specific majors.
“Parents and communities should stop pressuring graduates to only pursue ‘acceptable’ careers. Through collective efforts, we can ensure their journey beyond university gates offers opportunities, growth and dream realization,” Semehal says.
The future, according to Semehal, lies in their capable hands.
“We must pave the way for success and create an ecosystem where they freely explore creativity. I know money is crucial but it’s not the sole measure of a successful graduate,” she explained.