IS ”FREE PRIMARY EDUCATION” WORTH IT IN KENYA ?

Last Updated on 22 October 2013 by Gertrude

We have been complaining about the deplorable condition in the classrooms, not all classrooms but just a section of it, the Public Primary Schools. During the Moi regime, going to school was almost UN-affordable to some parents and I second that. When Kibaki, the former President, said in his 2002 election manifesto that education would be free, we all knew this was a serious game-changer. We clapped and made merry over this but we were ill prepared for the long term consequences, which in due time is reflecting in the dismal performance in these schools and the deplorable conditions some of these schools are in… nothing to write home about.

I know you have been wondering if these schools are worth it and if they should be done away with and parents start catering for their own school fees. Let’s analyse the situation:

1. Still paying for desks. Upon admission to these schools, there is a fee you must pay, desk fee and find a carpenter of your choice to make it at a negotiable fee of 3,000 Kenya Shillings. Wondering? Yes … now, if these schools were catered for, there would be desks, reading tables and chairs in good condition. Why do we jump the horses?

2. Campaign Gimmick. Politicians were created with sweet words in their mouths and tongues. If the former president was serious, he would have worked towards improving the conditions of both the schools and teachers. He should have accessed the situation in this school, some have no roofs, learning under trees and with barely any one to instruct them. We have to demand the implementation of the election manifestos, we have to stop being used!

3. Teachers strike. We all know about this, teachers going on strikes due to low salaries and underpayment became a norm a while but hopefully, this is under control.

4. Crowded Classrooms. Who in there right senses would dare teach classrooms as crowded as the ones in Kenya? You would probably be thinking about your health and well-being before being a teacher! No ventilation, dusty classrooms, just to name a few.

5. Lack of teacher motivation. Please do take a visit to one public primary and you would be shocked at how teachers are carrying out their daily duties … taking tea and mandazi in full view of some hungry pupils, knitting, gossip in the staff-rooms and absenteeism . This shows how de – motivated teachers are !.

6. Extra tuition. Why do teachers ask for extra money besides the desks they want to be brought? No wonder the late Mr. Mutula Kilonzo, R.I.P, banned these classes as it was just a unique way by teachers to fleece the unsuspecting parents of money in the name of remedial learning. Remedial learning indeed, while, the teachers don’t even appear during the weekends and long apology letters issued! This was just a ploy to make extra cash !

7. Under – staffed. Do you know how many pupils a teacher in a public primary school teaches in a lesson of 35 – 40 minutes ? About, 50 – 150!!! Now even a teacher cannot deliver to all these pupils, in a crowded smelly classroom with little or no light. The teacher would rather concentrate with the 10 – 15 pupils at the front, manageable, and do away with the ‘bodyguards’ who sit at the back of the classroom!

No matter what people say the introduction of ‘free primary education’ was a mahoosive mistake that should never have happened. Though many pupils have had the chance to go to school, most are still locked out due to lack of uniforms, fees for the desks and the extra tuition fees they are constantly reminded to bring along for the Saturday remedial classes.

Instead, the introduction of school fees as low as 3000 or 4000, to make learning a little motivating. We understand the past regime was trying to do a favour to parents but seriously, there was no favour. We now see children going to school very unkempt from head to toe, smelling and taking education for granted more than ever before, in the name of , ‘Hata hako kamwalimu hakakujagi class’ (that teacher doesn’t even come to class).

We have to fight for better standards for our kids in public primaries, because when they fail in national examinations, we also fail as Kenya. We have to motivate and encourage them the importance of school in gaining knowledge, tell them how importance cleanliness is to a school pupil or student, as it’s next Godliness, a dirty child has low self esteem. We have to cite notable examples of splendid children like Malala Yousafzai, kids, who despite serious political instability in her country, she is striving to make sure that all kids have the best education. She is well aware of how important education is especially to kids in the Third World and kids from politically unstable nations. As a parent be a champion of education to kids learning a tree or under a shade, get literate and know the importance of education to an individual, community and to the country. It has to start with you and me, education is knowledge and knowledge is education, fight for it’s better standards.

In your opinion do you think ‘free primary education should be banned’ ? To pave way for better learning standards in Kenya? Post your opinion and  Happy Belated Mashujaa Day!!!

 

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