How Magoha’s indecision hurt Kenyan parents

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha.

Former Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

It feels like in addition to being an extremely precarious time for the country, Ministry of Education Cabinet Secretary, George Magoha, has also decided the indecision of decision making must be meted out on Kenyan parents.

Every few days, there’s a new idea about when children should or should not come back to school – he’s extended the opening day to August 18th.

I’m no parent, but it really does feel like we’re still in the thick of the pandemic, reeling from decisions that should have been better thought out – otherwise what’s the point of having a supposed leader in charge?

I’ve talked before about how Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) is basically a vehicle for the middle class to entrench themselves further in class warfare – because who, in the middle of a county that is kilometres away from the nearest road, electricity pole and/or market, is going to trek home to make butter from ingredients sourced in their ‘backyard’?

Who is this that they are directing to print and publish books at home to bring to school the next day? And even for those few who can – who are these whose parents are not doing most of it?

But now, even in the middle of my war against CBC, Prof Magoha has added the pressure to an election he knew was coming by consistently switching out opening and closing dates for school-going children.

The thing that Prof Magoha does not seem to understand is that childcare and schooling work hand in hand, and if one is not organized early, then the other quickly falls apart.

For example, if your child is in school, then you can go to work, or take care of a home, until your child comes back from school – if you have an arrangement with a relative or a househelp who can be a minder. And while the child is home, you may be the minder, or the househelp takes over.

If we are in an election period, and you were already told that schools are closing on the 5th, you have told whoever might be helping you that they are free to leave and vote (or just leave, as is their right) for a specific period of time.

Then all of a sudden, the date of closing school is changed to the 2nd – but you’re still at work. Maybe one person can stay behind – but what if you’re the only parent around? Or you and your partner both have jobs? What if no one can stay home, or afford to?

Then Opening Day is moved again – from the 15th to the 18th – all this while the votes are not yet done being counted. Does your help come back early? What if they can’t? Do you tell your job to wait, or carry your kid to work with you? Who is supposed to live with this type of disorganization?

Kenyan parents, apparently. What happens in the case of another election, then?

I hope Prof Magoha reads this and somehow understands that these extemporaneous pronouncements just won’t do for a man in an office of this stature. Just a little thought into how this is going to go – in terms of fees structure, exams, households, elections, transport, and childcare – would have gone a long, long way.

Maybe, like IEBC, he needs a 5-year plan to start thinking about how he is going to confuse people again during the next election?