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“Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself” - John Dewey.

Since the KCPE results were released on 21st December 2022 by the Education CS Ezekiel Machogu, two things have kept parents awake; which school their children will go to and how are they going to raise the required school fees with the reduction and scrapping of education subsidies they have been getting from the government.

In the last few weeks’ parents have driven from school to school within their localities and in the neighboring counties in search of form one placement for their children, they have made calls and called in favors, some have begged and others have been asked to pay bribes and all manner of charges some real and others imaginary, just to get their children admitted. Someone quipped that this is the time when school principals and overzealous education officials make a killing and mostly switch off their phones.

The many calls received were from parents whose children schooled in Thika and have now been called to some school in West Pokot, Samburu, lodwar and another one in malindi, logistical nightmare. whatever happened to the way students used to get admitted to schools? It is becoming increasingly difficult for a student from Gatumaini primary school to get admission into Chania high school a school that shares a barbed wire fence with Gatumaini primary. This is the case in many other schools not just in Thika but also in many other areas.

For those of us who schooled in the 90s we would choose at least one or two district schools one was to be in your home district and the other one mostly in the neighboring district, it was the same for what used to be Provincial schools, one would be from your province. That is how those that did not manage to go to chania High school found themselves in Muhoho, Kiambu High, Njiiris, Nyeri high and senior Chief Koinange. for the ladies they would find themselves in Mary hills, St. Francis, Kijabe Girls, Kahuhia, St Annes Riuki in kiambu and many others.

At what point did a kid from General Kago primary school in Thika get to find his name in Garbatula secondary school or in West Pokot? Not that there is anything wrong in these places but this method being used is wrong it is killing some areas in education. Mary hill secondary school and many schools around were built by the local communities, some of them, gave out their land and donated their sweat, time, blood and energy to participate in their construction and now their grandchildren cannot get access to these schools. 

Mean looking guards and police are deployed at the gates of these schools to scare away and tell members of the community that the principal is not in and that there is no vacancy. Some might argue that these schools were built by the churches, mosques and temples, none of these religions had any land when they were introduced to Kenya. 

They found a people who embraced them and were yearning for education to a point of giving away part of their individual and communal land to build schools and other learning institutions. To deny locals a chance is to rob them off their own dignity, it is both bad and morally wrong.

When did we degenerate into this kind of behavior, that our grandfathers and grandmothers sacrificed and toiled for these institutions and today our children cannot access them. How shall we explain to them if they were to wake up from their graves today? What shall we say? 

The 2010 constitution not only made education as a basic human right, it also committed to nurturing and protecting wellbeing of communities by engraving these words in the Preamble page;

We, the people of Kenya—

ACKNOWLEDGING the supremacy of the Almighty God of all creation:

HONOURING those who heroically struggled to bring freedom and justice to our land:

PROUD of our ethnic, cultural and religious diversity, and determined to live in peace and unity as one indivisible sovereign nation:

RESPECTFUL of the environment, which is our heritage, and determined to sustain it for the benefit of future generations:

COMMITTED to nurturing and protecting the well-being of the individual, the family, communities and the nation:

RECOGNISING the aspirations of all Kenyans for a government based on the essential values of human rights, equality, freedom, democracy, social justice and the rule of law:

EXERCISING our sovereign and inalienable right to determine the form of governance of our country and having participated fully in the making of this Constitution:

ADOPT, ENACT and give this Constitution to ourselves and to our future generations.

Maybe it’s about time we reminded ourselves and those in charge of the education sector of these words in our preamble that there is no country or institution that does not recognize the contribution of the local communities that surround them. Give priority to local communities in admission and placements.

Juma Hemedi M

Social Scientist, Resident Thika

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