Auma Obama urges teachers to nurture critical thinkers

Tuesday November 29 2016

United States President Barack Obama's sister Auma interacts with Standard Two pupils at Kambi Mawe Primary School, Makueni County on November 29, 2016. PHOTO | PIUS MAUNDU | NATION MEDIA GROUP


US President Barack Obama’s sister has challenged Kenyan teachers to nurture creative thinking in learners.

Speaking on Tuesday at Kambi Mawe Primary School in Makueni County during a ceremony to commission libraries in 30 primary schools across the county, Dr Auma Obama decried that the Kenyan education system does not train learners to be creative.

“The problem with our school system is that teachers only teach children to do as they are taught only rather than teaching them to be critical thinkers,” said Dr Obama.

She called on teachers to encourage the learners to question what they are taught and also to read as many books as possible on different topics.

“To have creative and critical thinking, you must be able to know other worlds; you must be exposed to other things and our text books are not enough: It is our story books that take us to other worlds, expose us to others’ way of thinking and to other people with different ideas,” she added.

The ceremony that was also attended by Governor Kivutha Kibwana and senior county government officials, saw the county government donate books to 30 school libraries.


Some of the books were donated by StoryMoja, a charity associated with Dr Obama works though Shina Foundation, a charity that is run by Prof Kibwana's wife Nazi Kivutha, and the rest were bought by the county government.

Dr Obama lauded Makueni County for being the first county in the country to start libraries in schools and challenged the remaining devolved units to follow suit.

Echoing Dr Obama’s sentiments, Prof Kibwana singled out education as the most important investment residents of the arid and semi-arid devolved zone depended on.

Some of bright and needy students in various secondary schools across the country whose secondary school studies are fully sponsored by the county government were paraded and gave moving testimonies on how the scholarship started in 2014 came to their rescue.

Both Dr Obama and Prof Kibwana commented The Agha Khan Foundation and General Electric as some of the sponsors that backed the cause develop a reading culture for starting libraries in schools and called on locals to also donate books to schools.