Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Standardized Exams=Uniformity of Resources!!

"All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth." (Aristotle)

Swapping mind blowing tales about the good old school days is nothing new to any of us; in fact, those conversations mark great times with each other…more often than not, the more brutal the experience, the funnier the story really is. The other day, I found myself in the midst of such conversation with a rather diverse crowd of mid to late twenty somethings as well as early thirty somethings and while the stories told were more than hilarious, they also made me wonder about the standardization of education/testing that is the 8-4-4 system. How could one school have all the resources in the world and then some…I’m talking well equipped labs, text books for every student (provided by the school), sports equipment to last a life time, teacher-student attention that is unparallel and a life of comfort whereby all you have to think about through twelve years of school is yourself and your books whilst another school has teachers that barely made it through high school, can barely speak much English/Swahili (the national languages tested in the standardized exams), text books that are in tatters are reserved for teachers only and sports…well, between getting up in the morning, feeding your siblings, cleaning the house, fetching water and thinking about where to get your next meal…sports is the precise definition of luxury! How can the creators of this system possibly think that these two different worlds could then take a standardized test that determines their next move in life? Honestly, in an extremely utopic world, one that I think the 8-4-4 was hashed out from; all the students registered to take these standardized tests are on equal footing…and sure, let’s give a little lee way here and say that life cannot be perfect, so let’s subtract their lives away from school from the equation…you want 8-4-4 to stop failing us, then give equal resources to schools…want more rope? Sure…forget private schools (the government doesn’t fund them anyway)…this is to the department of education in our government…how about you give public schools everywhere a chance by making sure the teachers are eligible to teach! That they have the right tools with them once they live the Kenya Teacher’s Training College!! How about as parents, we, in conjunction with the government, give our children the resources they need to learn so that we can finally sleep with peace of mind knowing that the child in Pokot Primary School or Garissa Primary School is getting just as good an education as is the child in Nairobi Primary School. If the government cannot do us this one solid, then BE FAIR and give these kids examinations that are befitting of the knowledge and expertise rendered to them by their teachers, their school environment, and availability of resources! Surely, let’s STOP providing the rope that hangs our children’s future!!!!


DjLou said...

I totally agree. As much as life is not a bed of roses, I believe that must be a better system. The difference between the posh private schools in Nairobi whose students have access to just about everything and the schools located in rural areas whose students barely eat a meal a day is staggering. National standardized testing is quite a stretch. But then again it all falls back on the country's economic health and leadership transparency. Lets hope the new constitution will bring some major changes.

Anonymous said...

Your points are good. But one way the government tries to close the gap between urban and rural primary schools is by enforcing different cut-off points to high school intake. Rural schools have lower cut-off points to national schools compared to urban schools.

Sirjonduke said...

Kids in rural Kenya are disadvantaged from they day they pop out of the womb. We've had two long term govts and one short term one that have not offered any real solutions to this dilemma - other than free primary school education. Hopefully the plan to increase the number of schools per county will bear fruit in the long run.
Govt needs to do more in rural kenya to really lift the country from the 3rd world.