Dear Mr President, it is me again. Hopefully, the last time you will hear from me while still the President. That is if you will read this report card, for your people have this habit of hiding my letters from you.
I should have begun by hoping that you are well. But I know that you are not. Going by your recent public appearances, you have appeared angry, frustrated and unsettled. You just can’t wait to leave that office and go to Ichaweri to take care of your cows and goats while visiting the local Hitler’s every day.
Mr President, it has been a great nine years of you serving as president. Like I do to students every term, allow me to score you. There are things you have done well; others badly. Were you not retiring, I would have told you where to pull up your socks. Should you continue being president – even indirectly as some people have claimed – there are areas you will surely need to pull up your socks.
When you became president, I was an acting deputy HM. I got confirmed as the deputy the year you became president. I am still a deputy, imagine! While I was promoted due to my hard work and experience, I will give you full credit as it happened under your reign. Now play like you: ensure that I get confirmed as HM before you leave. I know you can.
Let me evaluate you on two other matters before I delve into the education sector.
I will start with power. When President Moi left, the nearest electric power was over 20 kilometres away. When President Kibaki left, it was just 800 metres from our home. But I now have power Mr President. But do not celebrate yet. I have heard the government say how millions have been connected via the last mile project. The people of Mwisho wa Lami have never seen or benefited from it, but every so often, government officials come with promises. They once even dropped posts at our gates, only for them to take them back months later.
I only got power this year because my brother Pius and my neighbour paid an arm and a leg to “pull” power to his house. He then “sambazad” to me. I may not have benefited from the government’s Last Mile project, but I give you credit, for you came in when we had no power, but you leave when we have. Congratulations!
Let me talk about roads. Before 2013, access to Mwisho wa Lami was such a nightmare when it rained. Whenever he visited, Pius would leave his state-of-the-art Mercedes Platz so far away then walk home as the roads were impassable. Not anymore, the roads are now murramed and frequently maintained. I know this is the work of the county government, but I will give you credit for that. After all, aren’t you the one who gave money to the governors?
Still on roads, I thank you for the amazing Kakamega-Kisumu Road and the Sigalagala Butere Road. Previously, going to Kakamega was such a nightmare. It now takes minutes. I know enemies of development will remind me that these roads were planned for, funds secured, and started by the Kibaki government but you completed them, and I give you credit for that.
I would have wanted to talk about food prices, cost of living, agriculture, health, but many have written a lot about that; let me talk about education, where I have expertise.
Mr President, your predecessor, President Mwai Kibaki, introduced free primary education, made relevant changes to the curriculum, oversaw massive development of schools infrastructure, and led an unprecedented growth of universities everywhere in Kenya. Under your administration, a lot too has happened to the education sector. A lot.
The school capitation programme is such a pain, with the little funds delaying every time yet HMs are expected to ensure schools run. The distribution of books by the government was a clever way of killing small cartels to create monster cartels.
But let us talk about CBC. Should we talk about it really? Mr President, I am a HM, and I also do not understand its implementation well, yet parents expect me to tell them how their children will progress. The speed with which things are being forced with the CBC, one would think that you want to launch it before you leave office. Or do you? CBC is a good idea Mr President, but it is being poorly implemented.
On teacher welfare, I can only say that you inherited a good Teacher Service Commission (TSC) but will be handing over a terrible Teachers Suffering Centre. We have gone through a lot, Mr President. Tumefinywa! A new Scheme of Service that no one understands was introduced. I do not know if you have read it, but even just getting employed as a teacher requires a million qualifications.
Do you know that the qualifications to join TTCs are so high that TTCs are closing down because of a shortage of students? And getting promoted is so elusive and complicated that many can only hope to become Deputy at 55 and HM at 58. What’s that?
Have I even talked about delocalisation, where a teacher, two years away from retirement, is sent 500km away from their family, to start life afresh? The less talked about TPD and Nemis the better!
True, TSC was never an angel. But there was a teachers union that fought for us. Mr President, your people killed Knut, completely. And went to bed with Kuppet. Today the government does what it wants with teachers and the education sector. My KU friend, Dr Wesonga, tells me that things are no better in universities. With less students and reduced government funding, many universities will soon close down. And we are not talking about small universities.
But there have been some good things. Exams cheating was reduced, and all school buses are now painted yellow! On education, I give a strong D!
The last thing I want to talk about is pockets. Before you came to office, access to loans was so difficult. But under your administration, we now have access to multiple places where we can borrow money from. Like your government that borrows every day and keeps increasing the debt ceiling, so are we. Personally, I am always shuttling between Fuliza, Tala, KCB M-Pesa, Branch, Zenka, Equity, and many other apps.
Like your government, I am always borrowing from one platform to pay the other. And, like the government, I can’t show where the money goes to. In short, Mr President, thank you for teaching Kenyans how to borrow and welcoming lenders to Kenya. I wonder how we used to survive without borrowing.
So, what overall score would I give you? In awarding you a score, I must consider your intent. I note that it is the people around you: the deputy, the ministers, TSC officials, who have failed you, for you honestly and genuinely mean well for Kenya, particularly for the education sector. I therefore give you a strong B-, for I know I may need you.
I hope you enjoy your last few days, and once you are out of office, please give me a call, and let us have a cold one at Cosmas Bar and Rest, or a tough one at Hitler’s. Goodbye, Mr President!
I remain, Mwalimu Andrew, Esquire
GHC, CRE, TSC, SWA