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To celebrate or not to celebrate

The last couple of weeks were times of graduations from public and private universities all over the country. Those of you who live in Addis might have been caught in a dense traffic of graduates around millennium hall in Bole. The number of graduates out there was just amazing. You see trails and trails of them hanging around with their families, and bouquets of flower in their hands, coloring the wide streets of Bole in pitch black. Looking at these graduates brings me almost a decade back where graduation, particularly for a first degree, was the biggest achievement families celebrated for as their children reached this milestone.  And everyone had to simply celebrate this big achievement by inviting friends and family and share the happiness.

The times in college right after high school mark for me the point at which one shifts from being under the responsibility of family to being responsible for one’s self. It’s like a transition period where we learn to be on our own, manage our own activities and start working hard not because parents said so but out of self-interest. And graduation is the first step into the reality of adulthood. In my opinion, that moment is and has always been stressful for fresh graduates as these take the first leap towards the tiresome job search. Our parents were lucky enough to get hired right after college, mainly because graduates back then were not that numerous and because the government placed graduates in different governmental posts after graduation. During my time, it took a while before fresh graduates found and settled on a job. However, I personally have not heard of any fresh graduate of my time who had to sit jobless for more than a year.

Things have now completely changed, I would say, for the worst for fresh graduates. It is simply not easy to find a job for fresh graduates with no experience whatsoever. Wherever you look in ads, only jobs that require a minimum years of experience are advertised for. Logically speaking, to have minimum years of experience, one has to start somewhere. If no one is willing to take in fresh graduates, then where are these supposed to get these minimum years of experience? I myself have few relatives who were not able to get jobs in areas that are even remotely close to their fields of education for at least 2 years after graduation. What is the hope of these graduates? Sometimes, I do not blame graduates whose hope is to simply vanish from this country and never look back.

Something that I’ve already mentioned in one of my previous articles and one that I would like to reiterate once again is the fact that joblessness in this country has to do (for me) mainly with problems in the education system.  In this time of job shortages in the country, the aim of the education system is to create graduates that have the capability to create jobs as opposed to graduates who seek jobs. I believe too much is invested on college infrastructure and too less on the skills and real knowledge that universities and colleges are able to generate. The greatest resource a country can have, in my opinion, are not natural resources such as water or fuel but rather brains that are able to identify and optimally exploit the scarcest resources.

To celebrate or not to celebrate graduations? That is the question that we need to ask ourselves as graduation times come every year. I would say we have reached times where graduations need not to be celebrated as they used to back in the old days. Graduations have become the first day of the rest of stressful days that are yet to come before one finally lands on a job. And we, the government, the society should do something about it.

To celebrate or not to celebrate
Contributed by By Tsion Taye