Even the children of the dirt-poor deserve dignity

Pupils at Ngirashi ECDE centre in Laikipia North constituency sit on the floor during a lesson.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Children went back to find their schools converted into rental apartments and chicken coops.
  • Some lakes have also been taking lessons from Kenyan politicians, and took advantage of the Covid-19 break to come out of their comfort zones and grab school land.

The first batch of schoolgoing children reported back to school this week, after six months of studying from home and playing with their classmates online.

Parents had requested the Ministry of Education to slowly walk with them back to school, but there was no way of convincing the minister with a 91-page curriculum vitae that there are things he doesn’t know.

The scenes from the first week of school have made for grim viewing. Children went back to find their schools converted into rental apartments and chicken coops. Some lakes have also been taking lessons from Kenyan politicians, and took advantage of the Covid-19 break to come out of their comfort zones and grab school land.

 Still, the ministry insisted children must report back to their schools, come hell or high water. The policymakers had many things to swallow, but pride was not one of them.

 There is a photo doing the rounds of school children sitting on a classroom floor observing social distance while taking notes from their laps, most of them with face masks acting as chin guards.

 They must have observed this peculiar habit from politicians or they just wanted the mask to have a break, since the school calendar won’t give them one.

Lack of commitment

 Whichever way you look at it, the Ministry of Education has exposed its lack of commitment to see through its promises. We should have marked their scorecard more harshly had we forgotten that they belong to the same government that promised us heaven during the 2013 campaigns but is delivering wheelbarrows instead.

When these issues were raised by parents last week, that the school reopening had been rushed, Magoha son of Magoha said we should cast our burdens unto him , as there was no way Covid would pass an exam the ministry had set for themselves. He should have known that bravado has a shorter shelflife than an overloaded fuse.

 When the government says it’s on top of things, they assume things cannot speak for themselves for lack of a mouth; and now that things have spoken: the ministry is hard-pressed to explain what things are doing on top of it.

 One of the prerequisites for the school reopening was the disbursement of capitation funds and the purchase of extra desks and protective equipment for needy children.

Kenyans had hoped that now that Kemsa is stuck with dead stock, it would send them to schools on short notice as its managers fight to save their faces from corruption sunburn.

The deliveries have not happened yet, as the last time the new desks were seen the President was mingling with them.

Fumigation plans

 If the neediest of schoolchildren aren’t receiving these provisions promised by the President, then the ministry should tell the children who the termites that ate their desks are, and what fumigation plans they have put in place to rid Jogoo House of pests and other vermin.

While the children of government officers study in prestigious schools that play with money, the offspring of the poor are crammed in depressed classrooms taking lessons from the cold floor because a government officer whose child has never sat in a public primary school feels he knows better than the parents of those children he is humiliating.

 If you’re going to humiliate someone’s child because of their parents’ economic status, at least afford them dignity — because the constitution already paid for it.

gabriel.oguda@gmail.com