Matiangi’s ideas only imprison and hurt children

Thursday May 26 2016

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When I was in Kenya High, my friends and I thought it was a hellhole but when we look back now, we’re grateful for the times we spent in relative freedom, when we were allowed to become who we are today.

Now it’s a completely different story. In my day, weekends were meant to be enjoyed after raking leaves from the luxurious lawn that surrounded our formidable dorms – otherwise known as the futility of compound duty.

We would laze about after the respective denominational worship services, bonding, exercising, sleeping – whatever tickled our fancy.

Weekends were for breathing and recharging for the week that we knew was coming, or at least serving as practice for the next Visiting Day. The world was wide and it was our oyster – until Double Geography came round, of course.

Now, my beloved alma mater forces children to go to school on Saturdays from 8am to 4pm, and on Sundays after 1pm to 4pm. When is somebody supposed to develop as a person?

If all I am doing is being taught, when do I learn to think? What time do I have to read something, and not just for exams?

On top of that there are more exams, more hurdles to jump over, and a lot less understanding. Schools, much like hospitals and churches, have become business ventures for those who can spin a glittering enough tale of success.

It’s not about imparting knowledge, information and wisdom any more. It’s about "the more ‘A’s you have, the more prestigious your school is", regardless of the foul methods you used to get there.

This is why we are in the disastrous situation of Standard Three children lugging loads of books double their size when heading to school at five in the morning, as if the child is a day labourer who has to get to a construction site before the sun is up.


To add insult to injury, Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i has decided that all social events in the third term of the school calendar are to be banned.

Sports! Because mental and physical health and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle spent at a desk cramming isn’t important at all. And who needs healthy competition? Not high school students of today, apparently.

On top of that, second term, the longest, coldest term of the year, has been extended.

These measures are supposedly to curb cheating, but the two questions that immediately come to mind are, what about day scholars? What are they supposed to be doing, or does cheating not happen in day schools?

Secondly, instead of focusing on the children who are actually cheating, mostly because of the pressure people like the Education CS put on them to pass exams by all means necessary whether they are academically gifted or not, perhaps he should focus on his own department, which leaks these exams out.

After all, the students are cheating from documents made available through pilferage. How about taking care of security at home instead of confining children like sheep for literally months on end?

It’s easier to stop 200 employees selling answers than it is to stop millions of high schoolers buying them. It seems like basic math.


This strategy makes no sense to me whatsoever – but then again, neither does 8-4-4, really. We’re just churning out more robots who will produce more bad ideas like this one, instead of looking at the actual problem clearly prevalent in Kenya, that most people have.

We lack critical thinking and analysis as a nation. We are plagued with the need to please society by kissing whatever we must and we are too easily accepting of any authority’s mantra of "accept and move on".

Our education system is largely responsible for what Kenya is today, and banning Visiting Day isn’t going to change that.

It would appear that no one remembers what it feels like to be a teenager, far from home, spending most of your time studying and missing good food; so much so that this four-month second term has garnered almost no protest from parents or religious leaders who heard right.

Why are we so out of touch with the leaders of tomorrow? That 8-4-4 needs an overhaul is not up for debate, but this is not the way to do it.

Also, I hear that most material is leaked through teachers anyway, not parents. Maybe they should be banned too.

Twitter: @AbigailArunga