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The voice of a graduate

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Determination finally pays for the graduate who spent sleepless nights with hectic schedule, burning the midnight oil, lectures, tutorials and course outline to grasp in a short period of time just so she could secure a better future. Her motto is ‘Education is the key to successes.’ Getting in to varsity paved a path to a career of her choice all she looks forward to now is getting her dream job. The future looks bright as it is. Already she feels like a winner on top of the world, she is amongst those students who did well in their senior secondary examinations and luckily, she is a Motswana youth who upon meeting all the requirements got a full sponsorship into any tertiary institution of her choice. She chose wisely and as ambitious as she is four years in tertiary gets her a degree. She has made it in life; a qualification is a lifetime achievement, she believes she has succeeded where some failed.
Little does she know that all this is just a fairy tail; reality starts to kick in when she is now eager to start practicing what she learnt, her degree certificate is all just a piece of paper. The way things are, it is no different from a birth and a marriage certificate. The statistics of unemployed graduates increases at an alarming rate and she has to join the queue. She is a Motswana graduate fresh from varsity with no experience, no contacts of influential ‘significant others’ who can help her get in the industry or maybe she did not rub shoulders with the so called right people. The government as caring as it is for its nation introduces national internship to help graduates gain experience and market themselves. As good as this may sound it is a nightmare. Joining the working class, being under paid and yet doing the very same job as someone who is employed on a permanent base is demoralizing, the graduate is not certain as to what the future holds. Only a few companies see the potential in the graduates they offer them contracts though it does not come close to what a degree graduate is worth it is better than nothing, much better than being exploited or sitting at home with a degree certificate hanging on the wall.
An undisputed fact is that the cost of living is very high and not all the graduates can survive on a P1 300 monthly allowance; some are bread winners who have left their dear parents back at home to earn a living. They have to rent, buy food, board a kombi to ‘work’ and still send some money back home at the same time keeping up with the status of the working class; remember they are said to be working. Weighing the little options one has, a degree graduate applies using the form five certificate to be a Special Constable at Botswana police services, a private at the Botswana Defence force, a warder at Botswana Prisons services and any other vacancy where the requirement is a form five certificate after all these are the posts where there is little competition and the departments hire in large numbers and they have yearly intakes. Though the salary scale is that of an O level individual, it is better than the One thousand three-hundred-pula monthly allowance and for those graduates who chose to suck it in and follow their dream their hope is to be absorbed before their two-year internship period elapses.
This is a point where the future of a graduate is uncertain; she is not doing the job she studied for, all the four years she spent in tertiary seem like a waste of time. She is in the same league with her former classmates who did not do exceptionally well in their form five final examination. But they seem to have progressed in life; they have four years’ work experience ahead of her, they have been absorbed; are permanent and pension able, they are driving their own cars, their homes fully furnished and the graduate has to start from scratch. The degree certificate aside she can’t help but envy the life of her former form five school mates who wasted no time going to tertiary meanwhile time waits for no man, she is not getting any younger.
Back at home, there are doubts as to whether indeed she finished her tertiary; parents and other relatives fail to understand why their child whom they have grown to be so proud of for making it into varsity had to settle for being a Special Constable. They are very disappointed in her for giving up on her dreams so easily and are even ashamed to announce her job title to the neighbours; she has brought nothing but shame and disappointment to the family who now blame witchcraft; they are Africans who can blame them.
Honestly it is not easy being an unemployed graduate, the feeling of great achievement lies only in you because you hold the certificate, but to the rest of the community there are expectations and standards to meet. It is as if you have variety of jobs for graduates to choose from. Experience does not come easily, you volunteer just so you get acquainted with the job but still you have to earn a living, bills don’t pay themselves. Being a Special Constable is not by choice but reality that has to be faced, a degree certificate no longer put food on the table. Being a graduate is not as cool as it used to be back then, in fact making it in the force as a recruit is a great achievement your future is set. While others chose the shortest route to success a graduate’s success is a great achievement.
Juliah Kotlhao

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