In sci-fi movies, Biochemistry seems to be Lucrative and fun but a nightmare in an African setting. Bright individuals end up telling anyone who wants to do the course to run away from it. Why?
Other biology and medicine related course graduates would complain about the unit but biochemistry students would survive through the whole course only to end up Jobless.
In Kenya, Biochemistry Graduates are A- and above students who were mostly stacked there by the Government through JAB now KUCCPS. These are students who did all sciences and cracked them during their high school study: Physics, Biology and Chemistry.
99% have no idea what kind of careers they will embark on once done with this hard course only to realise what is on the internet from the developed countries does not apply to Africa. People end up Jobless, Quality control and Assurance officers, Medical representatives, Lab assistants or Non-Biochem careers: Bank Guys, Sales or Customer Service.
According to a study conducted by Science Media Africa in November 2020, No one should be advised to take that career path unless you are ready to spend over 10 years in school if you are financially able to get a career started.
The study used the Technical University of Kenya, which is a very Technical School as the name suggests to find out what their graduates are currently doing.
Here is a summary:
- 57 total found on lists since 2016-2019
- 26 Found 45% on Linkedin, Where are the 55%?
- For 45%, 15% Jobless with updated LinkedIn
- 17% with Jobs – Lab assistant, Quality assurance and Control and Medreps – relating to biochemistry
- 0.03 satisfying places in their career path
- 12% in Biochemistry non-related jobs:
As much as biochemistry graduates are technically qualified to work in a lab, they are not allowed to handle samples without a KMTTLB license which can only be offered to a medical lab graduate. This has made some of them to be employed as account assistants in lets-say a diagnostics company but work in the lab chini ya maji.
With the increasing technology used in the labs to automate some steps like DNA extraction, biochemists are now advised to go the statists/programming way otherwise called bioinformatics to remain useful. But again, with that, it’s better to run away to a developed country as some have successfully done and be paid to study and later advance in one’s career and remain there.
Science is essential for Africa’s development but still our governments hardly put money into research. The little allocated used to enrich a few instead of investing in science to eat more later. When will Africa stop Under using our capabilities?
The little lab assistants mentioned work in places funded by the westerners, not Africa. Today, if all the funders pull out from Kemri, there won’t be a Kemri anymore. Look at UK, Australia, Germany, US, Canada, Switzerland… There are countries that have enriched research sectors. The number of COVID-19 vaccines developed by Africans using African data that are still crying to be funded are too many to be mentioned.
Its time to Wake-Up Africa.
Summary Data: Source Linkedin and Technical University of Kenya
Photo credit: iStock
I am a Scientist and a Journalist who loves communicating science to the public.
Personal Website: Sarahnyancheranyakeri.co.ke ( http://sarahnyancheranyakeri.co.ke/)