Kato David Adam is a Rwandan born in Kenya and is the fourth in a family of five children. As a child, Kato recalls that he always liked to hear words of inspiration and always wanted to impress others through his love of music.
“I’m currently in the process of getting into my final year in secondary school and I feel excited about it now that I know exactly what I want to be in future,” says Kato.
He describes himself before going through career guidance as someone who had very little confidence and was going down a career path that wasn’t right for him because he didn’t have someone to point him in the right direction.
Kato says he was introduced to the Rwanda Career Planning System, powered by Kuder® (RCPS) two years ago in senior 3.
“At first I didn’t understand it but later with constant interaction and with the help of the dean of studies, the career planning system showed me how important it was to discover and understand oneself,” explains Kato.
He says that the Kuder assessments measure career interests and work values. “We were given a series of questions that helped in assessing our interests and values that we were likely to have at work, not to mention showing different career options that one can take in the future,” says Kato.
When he went through the career planning system, Kato says his first assessment code for career interests was SIE (Social Investigative Enterprising) and the careers associated with this code were all related to medicine.
“I was like wow, I can actually do this. I felt a sense of self confidence in what I always wanted to be and that drove me to take PCB (Physics chemistry biology). Now I have hope for the future and I have developed an intrinsic motivation caused from the moment I took the assessment; a kind of hope was created in me because I knew that neurology was no longer a dream but a vision which I have the ability to pursue. Kuder helped me exploit myself even more to see what I can truly become based on my ability, not taking medicine or PCB just because my parents want me to or because of peer pressure but because it’s my passion,” explains Kato.
What the Government is doing
Since 2013 REB embarked on a venture aimed at improving career guidance in schools. Today schools have been required to offer career guidance to their students. Some of this responsibility has inevitably landed at the door of teachers, but their exact role remains somewhat uncertain.
According to the Member of Parliamentary Commission on Education, ICT, Culture, and Youth, Petronille Mukandekezi, the Ministry of Education through REB commissioned Kuder Visions Unlimited LLC, (KVU), an American career guidance solutions provider, to implement an organized set of specialized career guidance services in schools.
“The importance of a career guidance system to Rwandans in the future is that unemployment can be prevented if the system reaches to all. Career guidance is an online program that helps and guides a student to identify and choose to study what they should, depending on what they are able to do and what they are interested in” says Mukandekezi.
Currently, the RCPS, powered by Kuder, is being implemented in 130 schools, and 165 career advisors are already trained in the activity.
“If everyone has a chance to complete the system assessment, I think it can play a role in lessening the unemployment problem we have. Because if students start with the system before pursuing a subject, they will study what they are talented and interested in.
“After studying the subject, they will once again use the system to check for the job they are able to perform best concerning their ability; it will allow them to find areas to look for a job,” she says.
What teachers say
Carl Hobert, Deputy Head of School at Green Hills Academy, believes that students should be just be given a variety of career options to see where she or he fits best.
“It should be the choice of the child to figure out what is best for them because in the final analysis, being happy about what you do matters most. Parents should not be a block but rather let their children try out many different careers during vacations which will help them figure out what they are good at,” says Hobert.
However, Mizero Jean Pierre, Dean of Studies and certified career advisor at Lycee de Zaza, says the teachers’ main roles in career guidance are based on the relationships they build with students.
“Teachers have had careers of their own. They have made decisions about whether to go to university, what subjects to study and what jobs to do. Their experiences are useful for young people. These things need to be presented carefully, as what worked for the teacher may not work for the students, but teachers should be having career conversations,” says Mizero.
Teachers also have a well-developed pastoral duty. As trusted adults, young people approach them with concerns and dilemmas, many of which relate to future aspirations. Working through these issues with young people in ways that keep their options open is important. Career is a context for many life decisions and teachers need to be able to offer some solutions when it is important.