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Improve infrastructure in public schools

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By GLADYS BURINI
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Earlier this year when the Saturday Nation carried the story of Pokotom, I naively thought that story was so embarrassing for a middle-income economy that the government would certainly carry out an instant, thorough investigation into substandard schools. Fast-forward to last week and the Ministry of Education has certainly taken the adage “start as you mean to go on” to new lows! Images of pupils at Mangororo Primary School in Kilifi County sitting on stones to avoid the rainwater flooding the classroom. So what japes, eh?

Ah, money is being spent on the new competency-based curriculum rolling out soon. You’re having a laugh! The Ministry of Education is not competent to take care of its own resource allocation issues, yet this quality is being imposed on children? Colour me confused! Insisting on updating the curriculum to “elevate” the quality of education and expecting children to implement it in poor school conditions is beyond risible! Oh, and the same children are expected to compete not just among their peers with all the resources but the world at large in this digital world. It’s an Eton mess!

Is it any wonder only 21.7 per cent of KCPE candidates in 2018 scored 300 marks and above? It’s hard to be motivated to work hard when you don’t have much to work with. For what is a classroom but the place to acquire knowledge that has been deemed to determine the course of these children’s lives? What are books but the only source of knowledge these children have? What are chairs and desks but the place to write the knowledge they acquire and exams that separates the haves and have-nots? But no bother, they are only children; they will catch up later in life, eh? Not while their peers have a clear head start!

Then the same government will say, “If you are going to spend public money, the pubic must get value for every shilling that is spent on every child.” You’ve got to laugh! We have been getting a lot of value for our money lately, haven’t we? So much so that Tumaini Primary School in Kwale County has a classroom with a thatched roof that has a hole in it, and mud walls that are collapsing!

The government is not being fair to these children at all! We have impressed on children the only way to succeed in life is through getting a quality education. In future job interviews no child can give having a substandard school that was not fully equipped as mitigating circumstances for not getting high marks.

It would have meant something if classrooms were brought up to the required standard and schools were fully resourced. Then the very best results can be expected from every pupil in this country. So if the quality of schools doesn’t seem to matter, I see little point in imposing such emphasis on the quality of grades either. We can change the curriculum, but if children lack the basics to learn effectively, the government is playing a hand in the gap between the poor and middle-income households.

Unfortunately, kids, there are not enough Aisha Jumwas going around to come to your immediate rescue. Get on with your learning as best as you can, yes, even in these unsightly circumstances. We are out here trying to do the same.





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