We cannot improve education by appointing these awkward leaders

KEPSHA

Delegates follow proceedings during the 17th Annual Conference for the Kenya Primary Schools Head Teachers Association (KEPSHA) in Mombasa on 28th December 2021.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

The Education ministry has many challenges. In addition to its being a fraught path, we’ve had ceremonial figureheads and authoritarian leaders leading it, bringing us to this result here: no one knows what’s going on with education in Kenya, and no one knows why. But its quality is steadily declining.

Look at the last couple of years. We all know that 8-4-4 and the Competency Based Curriculum have serious problems. This is for various reasons including a lack of teachers and no money to pay serving ones.

It also has to do with the people the government keeps choosing to head this ministry. Let’s see, there’s the time they hired a lady who didn’t really know what she was doing. As she marked time in her reward position, children kept going to school in deplorable conditions.

Then there was the guy who was convinced that threats would make children stop burning schools. As you can see, that didn’t work. Even when he went round schools to see what was going on – which I truly commend him for – the fires continued.

They’ve been there since Bombolulu and Nyeri High, and they will continue to be there, until adults stop treating children like robots who must follow their instructions and acquiesce to their own dehumanisation.

However, this guy’s threats sounded so efficient that he was moved to another ministry, whose mandate is to protect the country.

And now, we have this bloke. This one who thinks corporal punishment should be brought back to school, for reasons such as “the children will stop school fires” even though when school fires started, as with Kyanguli, beating children was very much a thing.

He says we would not see him here today if he had not been beaten – as if lacking analytical thinking is something to aspire to. Then, a few weeks ago, he added more tripe to the barbecue, saying that students who are LGBTQIA+ should be day scholars.

Not only is this man not thinking, he also doesn’t read articles – articles of the Kenyan Constitution, which say you cannot and should not discriminate against anyone on the basis of – well, anything: The State shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against any person on any ground, including race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, health status, ethnic or social origin, colour, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, dress, language or birth.

(5) A person shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against another person on any of the grounds specified or contemplated in clause (4).

How is separating children from important socialisation – even in a nonsense education system – not discrimination? Surely this man can see that they will be discriminated against even further, if the only people who are in day schools are LGBTIAQ+ children.

And how exactly is this supposed to be implemented? Will we start filling out forms at the beginning of high school? How exactly do you check sexuality – is it like how many girls’ boarding schools used to violate us with a pregnancy check in term one? Because that’s illegal too.

And are they going to build separate schools when we don’t even have enough schools or teachers? How will Magoha stop discrimination from happening there? Most importantly – what does this have to do with choosing careers, getting into university or college, starting businesses, building lives?

Instead of focusing on personal liberties that honestly are more the business of the child and maybe their parents, Magoha should focus on a country that is teaching their children to cram and regurgitate only, and what part of that he and his careless words are directly responsible for.

Other countries – now that we are so fond of copying - had rejected CBC before we adopted it here. But we brushed off the predecessors so that the ministry and its leader could look like they were doing something, anything. Not taking into account that some of the illogical assignments that children take home are simply not feasible. Apparently, children have projects to do (or should I say, projects that their parents have to do) like making butter at home or building a sculpture.

While these sound great for developmental and creative skills, which adult knows how to make butter, and in an ever-precarious economy, is buying milk by the bucket to help their children learn to, in a country where only three percent of the population earn above Sh100,000? Some assignments even need printers. Printers? To go along with the mythical laptops every Kenyan child received?

Surely there are bigger things to worry about, like how to change a country so steeped in corruption that speaking up against anything almost certainly results in your murder.

One of the ways to change these things is proper holistic education, starting from a young age with a system that engenders critical thought, a strong sense of justice, and revolutionary empathy.

We cannot get there by appointing someone who wants kids beaten and/or somehow efficiently discriminated against through separation from others so that they turn out just like him, one who assumes that everyone has home printers.

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