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Our exam has no place for the all-rounded



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Exuberant joy has engulfed the homes of teens who attained top scores in the just released KCPE results. At the same time, students who scored below their expectations are woefully unhappy. The pain and pleasure of these results herald an apt opportunity to ask whether our exam system is finding the cream of the crop.

The country’s national testing system falls short in detecting talented children for a future ruled by technology. A sensitive testing system should be a talent magnet. One that catches the finest in diverse skills, not an austere system that only spotlights the “A” students, but blind to extra-curricular activities, or to those gifted in science, math or computing.

The test should help to order the young scholars according to their abilities, recognise them and register them to secondary schools that hone their skills.

Children who have a thing for academics would naturally score highly in all the subjects and claim a place in the top secondary schools.

Those who do well in sport would have been identified in the last three years of primary education, and would be honoured at the same time as top scholars in academics. The best in sports would be feted and admitted to special sports-inclined secondary schools.

In those schools, besides teaching general subjects, they would dedicate more time in nurturing the children’s sports ability.

Similarly, kids who are stellar performers in math, sciences and computing, but of average performance in other subjects, would also be identified and honoured. They would then be funnelled into special science and computing academies to support their budding interest in these fields.

This suggested grouping would not condemn talented kids to a life of shame because they didn’t score “As” in the three-day national test. Paradoxically, some of the world’s wealthiest and most influential dropped out of school, partly because the system wasn’t attuned to meet their needs. Steve jobs, the enduring Apple icon, dropped out of school and started a computer club. His contribution to technology has literally changed the world.

Jobs was uncomfortable with an education system that is deaf and blind to skills the world was hungering for.

Mark Zuckerberg, the venerable 34-year-old co-founder of Facebook, dropped out of college to concentrate on building Facebook. Zuckerberg is now a dollar billionaire.

Bill Gates is one of the most prominent school dropouts. Gates developed Microsoft through technological innovation, tact and unique business acumen. His name is prominent on list of the wealthiest on earth.

How many Steve Jobs, Zuckerbergs and Gates is Kenya’s examination system tossing by the wayside? It’s about time the government reimagined the examination system and adapted it to the reality.