A friend whose five-year-old ‘graduated’ this Thursday is yet to get over the fact that she had to pay Sh2,000 so that her son could be issued with a ‘graduation’ gown and cap
This week, hundreds of learners across the country ‘graduated’. If you’re confused, I don’t mean university students, I mean children who completed PP2 and who will therefore join Grade One next year.
It never ceases to amaze me how much the way things are done in schools has changed. During my day, graduations were set aside for those who had satisfactorily completed university, but that was then, nowadays, completing nursery school, or is it kindergarten? – is elaborately celebrated, in the process adding onto the financial burden that many parents are already shouldering as they try to meet the many demands of this new system of learning.
A friend whose five-year-old ‘graduated’ this Thursday, (the boy will join Grade One next year) is yet to get over the fact that she had to pay Sh2,000 so that her son could be issued with a ‘graduation’ gown and cap. Besides this, she and other parents were also expected to pay the school Sh500 in advance for a ‘professional’ photograph on the big day, more if you wanted it framed.
Livid, she had called it daylight robbery, but since it would have been unforgiveable had her son been the odd one out, she had been forced to fork out the money, which would have been better utilised buying food for her family.
It is appalling how schools, especially private schools, have commercialised education. Nowadays, everything has a price tag – a school diary, which costs more than a text book, ‘activities’ (read games such as football, swimming, skating (in small circles, mind you), which are offered once a week yet cost parents an extra couple of thousands every term, not to mention ‘insurance’, whatever purpose that serves, and many other costs imposed on parents.
But I was talking about how expensive the newest graduations in town are. On this day, parents are also expected to buy their children snacks to carry to school for a party and afterwards, there’s an unspoken rule that a parent will take their child out for a special lunch to celebrate their accomplishment – a couple of years ago, during my daughter’s graduation from nursery school, I was shocked when one of the parents turned up for the event with a huge entourage of people including their child’s grandparents. That is the day I learnt that some parents take this day pretty seriously.
Having attended three of these functions, another factor that is eaten up on this day besides money is time. These graduations are normally full day affairs that begin in the morning and end up late in the afternoon, some in the evening, for those that don’t start on time, and these are the majority, such that there is little else you can do on that day. Some would argue that this is a small price to pay for celebrating one’s child, plus it is once every five years. While this may be the case, do these functions have to be boring too?
Yes, we love our children, but surely, listening to five different classes, one after another, all performing, ‘I’m happy today, sooo happy…’ is torture. Perhaps the idea is to make all the children feel included, but still…
I also wish that the speeches teachers give could be fewer and shorter, a factor that can be achieved if schools wrote most of what they wish to communicate to parents on email, WhatsApp, or through a letter tucked in the school diary. It is possible to arrange a simple, short and efficient ceremony that serves the intended purpose. That, or do away with this graduation ceremony, which, if you asked me, is unnecessary.
The writer is editor, Society and Magazines, Daily Nation. Email: [email protected] ke.nationmedia.com