The difference between the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination giants and the dwarfs (forgive the derogatory term) is that the latter will most likely laugh last, despite missing out on the coveted ‘A’ grade.
The lives of these two groups are entwined, despite the grand efforts by the school system to demonstrate that academic excellence begets success in life.
A Daily Nation analysis of the results published on December 23 showed that 697,222 students sat the examination and 72 per cent of them attained “below-average” grades. It was certainly not a merry Christmas for the 504,415 candidates.
According to the Nation article, these “failed” candidates will join a growing population of school leavers who seek low-paying, poorly funded artisan courses or completely fall off the education system.
What a pity, you might say.
But, as we wait for the technical justifications of the examination results patterns from the Ministry of Education, and a word (we hope) about fixing the gaping holes in the syllabus and curriculum, let’s consider for a moment the fate of the academic giants who qualify for entry into university. Those blue-eyed boys and girls who will take the courses of their dreams at local universities and live happily ever after with six-figure salaries and white-collar jobs and fuel-guzzling cars.
Spoiler alert: It’s a horror movie. What awaits them are the following: unscrupulous lecturers who will demand sex for grades, financial problems the universities will most likely face or are already facing, questionable degree courses, depression and even death.
When the KCSE giants eventually graduate and manage to retain even a smidgeon of hope or optimism, they will most likely be labelled half-baked. Seriously.
If they manage to penetrate the job market, they will discover that their grandmothers and grandfathers, who should be retired, comfortably and unapologetically hold the jobs that they, the celebrated graduates, were to have.
No, this is not ageism. It’s about giving Caesar what belongs to him. Considering that the economy is strangling everybody, maybe the grandmas and grandpas are justified in refusing to cede ground.
If the graduates decide to “respect their elders” and not fight them for the jobs, they will discover that all the white-collar jobs they expected to have will have evaporated in the shrinking economy. And that is when it will hit them that the education system is Death Valley for creativity and innovativeness.
The “failures”, on the other hand, will endure the public humiliation of being labelled academic dwarfs for a while before they use their intelligence – the kind that can’t be graded by ominously titled national exams – to create, innovate and form a critical mass of workers. The giants will look at them with envy and maybe even knock on their doors to seek employment.
Maybe one day the “failures” will force the education system to acknowledge their kind of intelligence but for now, (and at the risk of sounding like a motivational speaker on steroids) they can take comfort in the knowledge that crucifixion does not mean eternal death for them and that they will rise again in an army of work force and entrepreneurs.
While KCSE examination results offer some sort of validation for the academic failures’ intelligence and gives a good old ego boost, it’s a superficial measure, because their intelligence existed long before anyone thought of labelling it.
Happy New Year!
The writer comments on social issues. Twitter: @FaithOneya; e-mail: [email protected]