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Monday, 23 May 2011

RELEVANCE OF FORMAL EDUCATION IN A DYNAMIC SOCIETY



A
 famous man called Thomas Scott once said that no man leaves a better legacy than an educated family. In Kenyan context, I have been wondering since when has this statement been valid? Let’s sample the validity of the statement over the years.

                        My grandfather’s era
H
e must have been born during the pre colonial period. That is before the white man had made it to his village, but he was in Kenya already. When the white man introduced education in slopes of Meru, Chuka to be precise, he was frank enough to tell the natives that those who will be able to speak in English, would be given “air lifts” which was synonymous to going abroad to further their education since there was not even a single university in east Africa. This was bad news to the people or a total communication barrier. All the children were withdrawn from schools because taking them to school was tantamount to selling their children “it would be a great labor loss if my son would go to a foreign land while weeds are growing in the farm, with no one to graze the cattle”. That was every man’s song. Daughters were protected jealously from being corrupted or else, they would lose their value. Children of chiefs were pitied much because they had to go to school as a way of compliance to civilization, otherwise, the chiefs would loose incentives like blankets, soaps, and the occasional ride in a land rover. My grandfather was withdrawn from school  “mara that that” (immediately).



My father’s era

W
ith no stair missing on the ladder, children of chiefs were destined to have a good future. So it came to be. My father was born to a self proclaimed successful coffee and macadamia farmer, who had one wife: a rare phenomenon in those days. He was determined to acquire education now that he could see its benefits. His farther was also determined to keep him in school though he struggled much. Drawing a comparison between my grandfather and chief’s children, there were enough reasons why the former was regretting for having not remained in school. C.P.E, equivalent of K.C. P.E today, was a national examination done in class seven, and the first batch would be absorbed by the public service commission to work as secretaries and drivers though they would take a short course. Independence found my jolly good father in school. Another group would be sieved at form two: my father survived the two exams. Another major exam, like a dose of tetanus injection, would be administered in form four. This was furthest he went and he had more certificates than anyone in the village ever thought of acquiring! The mzee said enough was enough and he could not pay school fees anymore for an adult, who is already the most educated fellow in the village. So   getting a job was eminent. According to his qualifications, he needed no training like nurses or teachers. No, but direct absorption by the public service, further learning was through in service courses as per the demands of the work. As I said, with no stair missing on the ladder, those who went to school with him managed to achieve their endeavors. Others went ahead to pursue the ‘A’ levels at form six and university.


My era

S
uccess in the preceding stages greatly contribute to the success of the following or makes it somehow hassle free.  Being born in a family where parents are educated, earning well with a stationary vehicle at home meant much in the village. Parents would buy a ramshackle in the name of a vehicle and park it at home where people can see it while on the road. Actually there was one at home but it was a great source of pain and tears. A chicken used to incubate there and it was the gist of hide and seek game in the village. Bet the chicken would be flushed out of the comfy Peugeot 404 and at times eggs would break hence I would contribute to the ‘global cry’. Parents of those days had a tendency of beat their children in the evening. Sometimes a few strokes of cane would be spared for the following day would be spared just incase you do not make a mistake. But this seldom happened because we had to make mistakes, parents were so strict and they read the bible well. Does it not say “spare the rod spoil the child?” if a visitor was around, beating would be rescheduled. Beating greatly contributed moral uprightness.
Education was a must and an occasional visit in the school by parents in a G.K vehicle was the order if there was a chance. Boarding primary schools were perceived as excellence centers. My grandfather used to tell me that if education was hereditary, children of the educated people would not go to school but inherit education. Secondary school results were so frustrating because those from day primary schools were not used to spoon feeding like it was in boarding schools and were now free from house hold chores, and had a whole 24hours to study in proper lighting hence building a stiff competition to the lazy ones from boarding schools (not all were lazy though, but I was).

Remedies
The parents plan to buy a new model of Toyota, maybe Toyota Wish or Caldina are now frustrated. This is because they have to save enough money in order to afford a parallel degree or a diploma in a prestigious college in the neighborhood.  Maybe at Embu College. Hardships do not end there. After completing the course, more money is needed by a tall relative to get you a job, a process  which will take maybe a year while the swift, who are not ashamed of owning “small pay slips” will take ‘small jobs’ and  they will been elevated to managerial posts before the rest bribe to get a job! I took a parallel degree and my father could not understand why I was giving him my C.V. He referred to it as an ‘incomplete mortifying document” and with finality, he ordered that I should go back to college and upgrade. You see the tread?  A certificate, diploma, degree, masters or a Ph.d is not enough in modern Kenya. Not even CPA (K). Accountants, be warned! All that maters is an excellent combination of unique skills that makes us a multi-faceted being that can work in a dynamic society. Education is not just passing examinations. Its overall purpose, if I may Sidney J. Harris, is to convert mirrors into windows.



My child’s era


I
 May be having no plans of having one soon but I am psychologically prepared to usher my young one on earth in style. He (or she) will not be subjected to torment of man made hell like KASNEB, KNEC, IBE or City and Guilds. Learning will be on a rapid result initiative mode where research will be the key activity. He will major on art based subject laying much emphasis on literature, the only field that allows man to be like God, Where writers have the capability to create a world with a pen on a piece of paper. A world with human beings, animals and they dictate peace, justice, ethnicity, war and can kill, tame or elevate his people.  All pornographic websites will be blocked and his thoughts will be filtered by special software that will rid him of malpractices like corruption, immorality, adultery or copying bad behaviors like gender violence and drug abuse from adults. Diet will be highly monitored, and over sleeping will be abhorred. Obedience will be adored and hard work desired. He will be trained on martial arts to protect the innocent from bullies. Watch me as I full fill my dreams. Sorry, I forgot to marry, but trust me; I’ll do it approximately nine months before the child is born.
                       

By Japhet Mwiti. mwitijaphet@yahoo.com
 A playwright, poet, prose writer and a freelance journalist majoring in:
  • Wedding journalistic  coverage 
  •   Parties coverage
  •  Burial coverage
  • Trip coverage.

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