Monday, January 22, 2007

Free Education: More Pie-in-the-Sky

Kenyans never learn. Following the fiascos that characterised the hasty and imprudent implementation of both Mo1's 8-4-4 system and Kibaki's Free Primary Education, one would have thought that other proposals to "improve" our education system would be tempered by a dose of realism. Not so. Presidential aspirant Kalonzo Musyoka is now promising to similarly mess up our secondary schools.

Now, don't get me wrong. I have nothing against free education. It is a noble and worthwhile goal. Musyoka is yet to provide us with the mechanics of how this is to be achieved but I suspect he will pretty much follow Kibaki's lead i.e. declare the policy and hope for the best. For it to work, however, we need to make the necessary investment in teachers and facilities before we throw open the school doors. And that will take time and resources.

The current emphasis on quantity and not quality will not do. The lack of preparation for free primary education has resulted in class sizes of up to 120 as opposed to the recommended 40. We don't have sufficient schools and teachers to cope with the sudden influx of up to 1.5 million extra kids (and grandpas) into the system. It is reminiscent of the introduction of 8-4-4 when students studied curricula requiring laboratories and other facilities that their schools simply didn't have. The folly of this will be with us for some time to come and it is our children who will pay the price. And since our politicians' kids rarely attend public schools, they will not similarly suffer.


Kenyanomics said...

I think Kenya is risking populism. Kalonzo is pushing for a free sec. education, Ruto wants 30% of government revenue sent to "poor" provinces, Raila will nationalize recently privatized parastatals, Ngilu will not let go her multi-billion health scheme, Kibaki is yelling about a useless Youth Fund, and the entire House is pushing for more CDF cash, in which MPs and their cronies control. Is Kenya heading towards Gathara's world or away from it?

Gathara said...

Paradoxically, it is the same Kalonzo Musyoka, who as Education minister in 2000, rejected the Koech Report which had proposed the expansion of basic education to include secondary schooling and that would have offered it to all eligible students.