“Education is the Key to Success.” Well said and I do not doubt it, but I have a problem with how we interpret this. It’s been a month since the 2011 Kenya Certificate of Primary School (K.C.PE) results were announced. Young boys and girls have killed themselves citing reasons that they could not meet performance expectations, from their parents and their teachers.
Teachers have killed themselves, reason being that their schools did not perform so well in the national examinations as expected.Many parents and sponsors have been on their feet, running up and down to ensure that they get all the necessities for their children as they join High School this month and early February. At the same time, others are still mourning the death of their children, at least 8 pupils are claimed to have killed themselves after the results that were announced late December.
It’s at this point, I sit down and ask, why will 13,14 or even 15 year-old pupils kill themselves for not having made it to their targets? One thing I can say for sure is, there is serious lack of mentorship programs in our schools. Be it, primary school, high school or even higher education levels. Honestly, we should not have Kenyans killing themselves for not performing to their best.
Its your future
Watching the news, one of the deceased boys wrote this to his parents, “I am sorry mum, I couldn’t make it to 400 marks.” This tells me where part of the problem is. Many of us are in school not for our own benefits, but for the benefits of our parents, teachers, relatives and even our peers.
There has been too much emphasis on achieving specific targets set by the people “above” and failure to meet such targets, we feel miserable, enough a reason to warrant us to end our lives. I love what our dad told us when we were in school. At the end of the term, he will carefully go through our report books and he will say, in very short words, “You need to pull up your socks, especially in these subjects (xyz). You need to work hard, it’s your future.” I have always said I will use the same tactics on my children one day. You know why, this alone, gave me the responsibility to know that my future lies in my hands. Whatever I do with it, it is all upon me. I could decide to work extra hard in school, so as to make way for a brighter future ahead, or I could decide to lazy around and mess up my future. I have never and I will never live my life meeting societal expectations.
Many of you will agree with me, that our parents were always number one in school. I wish we could go back and verify this. I hate and I am using this word hate, to express my sincere feelings for such parents, who keep reminding their children, how well-behaved and bright they were in school. “You have to work hard like I did when I was in school, I always excelled and topped my class all the time. Your target should be 400 marks and above, anything less than that, you are a failure.” Such parents are within our midst. We have overrated education in Kenya. We are to blame for the loss of the young boys and girls who might one day be the greatest people in this country, who knows? But what do we do, instead of nurturing such souls, we kill their dreams even before they are old enough to do anything on their own.
The truth is, many of our parents are too quick to see us achieve some of their dreams through us. If your dad, never made it to the university and he has excelled as the best businessman in this country, why the pressure to see you go to the University? Your mum, actually has no idea, what a High School door looks like, how does such a parent get the guts to tell her own daughter or son, “Couldn’t you perform better than this, you are such a failure”.
There have been many scholarship opportunities for those joining form one this year. Corporate organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations’, NGOs’, private individuals and sad enough all these want students with a given cut off points, specifically 400 marks and above out of the possible 500.
Last week at the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi, together with my friends, we attended the screening of a film, a small act. The film features a story of a very poor boy from a rural village in Kenya, with his education sponsored by a Swedish stranger named Hilde becomes a human rights advocate at the United Nations.
Later he starts his own scholarship program to replicate the generosity he received and calls it, Hilde Back Education Fund, HBEF. This was a very good story, if you schooled in a public school in Kenya, you will relate to the story quite well. I loved the idea of giving back to his community and Kenya at large. “I know if it was not for the scholarship I received from this stranger Hilde, I will not be here today. That alone motivated me to help other students who are in a similar situation like I was,” said Chris Mburu, Founder HBEF. That was a great initiative; I only wish he expands his horizons beyond the K.C.P.E results.
I realize many people are in a similar situation, really want to help bright students from needy families, but why should it be, only students with 400 marks and above. Having done the 8.4.4 education system in Kenya, I can confidently say, K.C.P.E results will never be determinant of one’s success in life. K.C.P.E, is a little of brains, a lot of cramming and a bit of guess-work.
Putting off students at such a tender age in Kenya, is sad. Saddens my heart and I wish someone could raise up and say, ok, even though you did not make it to 400 marks, I will sponsor you, as long as you are ready to work hard in High School and the years to follow.John F. Kennedy said, “Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.”
Prior to sitting for the K.C.P.E examinations on those 3 days, many things might have happened to that could elicit poor performance. The final results alone cannot be used as a litmus test for support of students who want to join higher education. What about those with exemplary talents in athletics, singing, acting, electronics, broadcast, engineering, name it all. What happens to these talented souls, do their dreams die because they could not manage the so coveted 400 mark point. Lets rethink our strategies dear Kenyans, over to you!
“Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.”Plato