The Oxford English Dictionary describes a graduation as the award of a degree or diploma.
That has been the norm since the 17th Century. It is on this occasion that the graduands don their academic regalia as they celebrate the hard work they put into academics for the period.
However, a new trend is getting popular across the country. Schools are holding fully fledged graduation ceremonies for five-year-olds as they ‘graduate’ from pre-primary to primary school.
The children slip into their little caps and gowns to pose for pictures as they line up to receive their awards and certificates at extravagant ceremonies. Is this not too much to give to a child too soon for achieving so little?
Finishing pre-primary level is, surely, a special moment — often sentimental. The pupil will have to study for more hours, forget about the afternoon nap and leave the nurturing preschool teacher behind. It is a new experience altogether.
However, holding such a colourful graduation ceremony is going overboard. Teachers and parents should settle for a small party, even in the classroom, with snacks and, possibly, entertainment from the more creative of the pupils.
Here, the teachers can read out the achievements of the pupils throughout the two years and present certificates and gifts like at a normal term meeting.
The parents will not be required to dig deep into their pockets for extra money to cater for gowns, food and drinks.
In social media chat rooms, parents have been ranting about the levies they are charged for these events with some lamenting having to take days off from work to attend the ceremonies in a bid to please their little children.
Too much pressure is put on parents to make the kindergarten ceremony memorable. The fee for gowns alone is ridiculous.
Last year, the Nairobi County education minister barred schools in the city from charging the ‘graduation’ fees following reports of children of pupils whose parents failed to pay the money being denied places in primary school. But that is pure blackmail!
Parents should not programme their children to a need to mark every milestone in their lives. When every small achievement becomes overemphasised, anticipation for the major ones is lost. It could also cheapen the idea that you have to work hard or put effort to achieve feats in life.
We risk having a generation that so much feels entitled to certificates of participation and rewards for every minimal task or responsibility they perform.
The kindergarten ceremonies come with a false sense of achievement, which, to some extent, undermines the value placed in a graduation ceremony as it is not based on academic merit. Are we so hungry for ceremonies and photoshoots?
Ministry of Education officials and Early Childhood Development Education leaders should look for an affordable and less exaggerated way to mark pupils’ transition from pre-primary to primary school.
Ms Gatwiri is a Fourth Year journalism student at Moi University. [email protected]