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Poor Governance and Failed Education System – Where the rains started beating us.

The biggest problem facing Kenya now is its education system and policies governing the sector. All these policy errors, corruption and misgovernance are as results of a failed education system that was not well thought of at its inception.

Kenyans have had access to education as far back as 1728 with the earliest school dating 1846.

In 1967, Kenya adopted the 7–4–2–3 system of education, which consisted of 7 years of primary education, 4 years of secondary education, 2 years of high school and 3–5 years of university education.

In 1985, Kenya adopted the 8–4–4 system of education, which adopted 8 years of primary education, 4 years of secondary education and 4 years of university education.

With the introduction of the 8–4–4 system CPE became KCPE (Kenya Certificate of Primary Education) while KCE became the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE).

8-4-4 best system but poor planning and implementation

8-4-4 was a good system that was geared towards providing a holistic learning system to learners but the policy makers never thought it out well and it ended up with so many shortcomings.

It incorporated Agriculture, Art & Craft, Home science, Music, Business Education, Physical Education (PE) and other skill-based learning.  

Most of the pioneers of this system never went to waste. Today, they are the people who earn a living as carpenters, hoteliers in village food places and are our tailors in estates.

Those who missed admission to secondary schools joined vocational colleges to perfect the skills as they already had a base.

Unfortunately, all these were killed in the mid and late 90s when those in power started commercialising the education system and turned education purely theoretical. People now started equating success with academic grades attained in national exams (STD 8 and Form 4) where theoretical A students were regarded to as heroes while all others were seen as failures and rejects.

Birth of Private Academies and doctored results

It was at this time when everyone idolised academic results, resulting to very unfair competition with schools employing all manner of mischief to achieve high means scores in both KCPE and KCSE.

Everyone started talking about KCPE/KCSE results which bore so much pressure on everyone:- the pupils, teachers and even parents.

The situation was worsened with the re-introduction of Free Primary Education by Ex-President Mwai Kibaki’s Government, which suffocated public schools, forcing many parents to opt for private schools.

This gave birth to too many private academies set up even in residential plots majority of which did all manner of mischief to attain Grade As which would eventually translate into more pupils’ admissions and consequently more money to these investors.

Academies started “poaching” bright students from public schools and giving them free scholarships. Others “deported” weak pupils from their schools to register for exams in different examination centres or open two or more centres in the school and registering them as a different school all in the name of maintaining their “good name” and good financial returns.

The skill-based subjects were substituted with the "main subjects" and eventually died a natural death. You could find for instance children doing Maths during PE or Business Education lessons.

Bribing for good results

In all this unfair competition, corruption crept in and people started bribing unscrupulous officials of the Kenya National Examinations (KNEC) for favourable results. Parents and teachers too joined in the fray and cases of imposters sitting for exams on behalf of candidates became rampant in some areas.

Schools also drilled and spoon-fed children into reading exams. Teachers started despising skills and talents in their learners and started worshiping “theoretical giants" who could not even explain why they did some arithmetic but could recite such formulae to get an answer.

These are the children that eventually got admitted to the national and other coveted schools.
Inside these schools, the spoon-feeding continued with an eye for national results. They are the children who eventually took up all the university slots.

Incompetent "Bookies" now policy makers

The bottom line here is the country ended up having "bookies" in the universities who obviously were the ones who took up the lion share of government's appointments in jobs by virtue of their attractive academic (paper) credentials.

The seed of graft was inculcated into the children's minds so early when their parents played monkey business in manipulating good marks in schools and for individual children.

This vice then extended to the acquisition of jobs, especially in government. The parents bribed to have their children join their "dream" careers, which was not necessarily, what the children even wanted but actually those that paid well.

With this, parents nurtured a culture of idolising money thus inculcating graft into their children's DNA. No wonder money comes before anything else these days. Someone will let another person to die while demanding for money first before rendering an essential service.

These are the people currently holding almost 80% of government positions and thus are the policy makers.

With these "paper giants", Kenyans have ended up being entangled in crazy governance policies that make even the illiterate wonder what the drafters were thinking when coming up with certain laws and policies. An recent example was the milk and manure bills that had been drafted (and later withdrawn), leaving players in the agricultural sectors in utter shock.

It's not a wonder too the government keeps recycling old professionals who have proven to be more capable and able to deliver tangible results as compared to these young Turks who are "paper" giants without the requisite skills.

There is still hope

Luckily, the introduction of Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i into the Ministry of Education brought back sanity into the Ministry and KNEC. His leadership skills and no-nonsense approach to these problems whipped back some sense into the players and students can now boast of hard-earned results.

Then with the introduction of the Competency Based Curriculum and the revival of technical institutions, there is a ray of hope into the future.

We hope and support the current CS Professor George Magoha whose zeal and passion to see things done the right way will help up put back this country on track to becoming a middle-level developed country.

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