Yesterday I visited my primary school,my friends and I do this every year to meet and encourage the kids in class 6, 7 and 8. Sometimes we meet even the parents who now happen to have been my classmates or younger. Sometimes I wonder if this has any impact but we chose to do it anyway.
When we go we talk to the pupils on general life issues, we do this in the hope that atleast one child will be inspired and focus on the great future that lies ahead. We did not get such an opportunity while we were in primary school so it’s hard to tell the impact.
So yesterday as I was seated there observing the pupils as my friend was speaking, I noted a big difference between the kids in the village schools and the urban schools. The village kids are not as confident and exposed as the urban kids and therefore will not ask as many questions yet deep down I know they have lots of questions.
Listening to the teachers speaking to the candidates, the emphasis is only on the grade they will get. And you could see the frustration on their faces on the kids who do not get 300 marks and above. I kept wondering, what’s the problem with a child getting 150 marks so long as they have given it their best? Really is education about the grade you get? What happens to those who will get less than the redline which in this case is 250 marks? Does the grade I get determine my failure or success in life?
Clearly you could see on the faces of the candidates that the exam is a matter of life and death. And this reminded me that it was the same during my time, those who did not get a good grade could not proceed to high school and therefore, their hopes and dreams were shattered, most of them are actually the parents of these kids that I was speaking to.
When you ask these kids, ” how does the person they consinder most successful look like? What do they have?” You get many answers, some of them are, they drive a car, they have money, they live in Nairobi etc they actually said that am a very successful person because I drive a big car. This means that anyone who does not have the things they described is not successful by their standards.
My worry is those who will not get space in high school because they got low marks, what is their fate? What does the future hold for them now that education is the key to success? However you define success. Remember it also means that they will not get the exposure that may come through travelling and 95% of them do not have a TV at home that can help them get some exposure.
The big question is, will devolution help in creating opportunities for these citizens based on their strengths and talents? When you read about county government you read about misappropriation of funds and corruptions. And if education is the key to success, why can’t every government focus on ensuring that every child gets equal opportunities to education? In my opinion, Education may not make us equal in fortunes but it can make us equal in aspirations.
During our time if you asked us, who do you want to become when you grow up? We only knew two people, a teacher and a doctor ( the one we knew was a nurse or a clinical officer) I would like to suggest to each one of us, to go back to the village, inspire those boys and girls let them know there are other careers like business men/women, insurance sales agents, lawyers etc. Let’s be the source if their inspiration.