Rotten National Education System, Now and the Future
By Hussein Leli
The value of our education system has been on its death bed since 2013 yet there is no murmur of protest from scholars, politicians, government agencies, civil society organizations or the public. The rot began with the enactment of the Basic Education Act 2013 (BEA).
The Basic Education Act 2013 was very ambitious and gained massive acceptance and equal amount of support by local, regional and international stakeholders of education. The Act is logically aligned with key documents including the constitution of Kenya 2010, vision 2030 and UNESCO commitment by nations to educate the world’s children–Education for All. This goal is extremely ambitious to be looked down upon especially in the interior Kenya where failure of some parents to facilitate their children to attend school and school dropout is still ubiquitous phenomenon.
Despite the ‘heaven’ promise, the Act has recently received commensurate share of criticism from its key stakeholders including teachers. The major loophole is its inadequacy to address the issue of indiscipline in our learning institutions. Indiscipline cases range from simple failure by students to do assignments, being disrespectful to the teachers, deliberate absenteeism, and truancy to more complex issues involving attacking their teachers and arsons. Unfortunately, the Act gives no right powers to the teachers to take actions in the aim of correcting these misdemeanors and felonies. Regrettably, this is the basis of loss of authority of the teachers over their students. According to the Basic Education Act, it is only the CS for education who has full authority to exercise disciplinary action against students including expulsion. It is however noteworthy that expulsion is so extreme and rare measure of correcting indiscipline cases in our schools.
Discipline is the backbone for acquisition of the skills, knowledge, attitude, values and innovation (SKAVI). Compromising discipline renders the entire education system free of skills, knowledge, attitude, values and innovation which are the basic tenents of development, hence its death.
It is imperative that the education bureaucrats and the society at large advocate for high uncompromising discipline of their learners in schools. However, this can only happen upon resuscitating the teacher authority over their students.
As the Act mandates only the CS to exercise expulsion of indiscipline learners, its advocates should be cognizant of the fact that major compromisers of the value of our education system are not the complex indiscipline cases that necessitate suspension and expulsion of students rather the seemingly minor issues but so detrimental to our education system. Are the top education bureaucrats and their cohorts aware that our students deliberately fail to do assignments? Do they know that some can accept sitting in an examination room but just write their names on the exam papers and refuse to attempt any question, not because they don’t know the answers but just to tease their teachers? Should teachers start soothing them? I mean let the law be clear on this… (Insert graphics)
Well, to break the silence of the aforementioned, the Basic Education Act 2013 recommends teachers to summon the parents of such delinquent students. This justifies my belief that a vast majority of education policy makers are ignorant of Kenya’s diversity. Do they know that some students are in school just because of policies like free and compulsory primary education and the one hundred per cent transition from primary to secondary? Given an opportunity to summon their parents, such students would take a whole month or two before reporting back to school. Some go home and that becomes the end of their schooling. The central question would be; do we still expect quality education under such environment?
Education policy makers are overly obsessed with achieving the compulsory basic education-Education for All at the expense of quality and trappings of values which are the most essential part of an individual moral aspect. The bottom line is, there will be no universal quality education without enhancing the discipline of our students. This will only be achieved upon restoration of confidence and authority of our teachers. Since when did our teachers become so inhumane to brutally torture their own primary clients? Are our teachers so ruthless and cruel in correcting the behavior of our children than juvenile prison wardens, even after spending three-four years in college training how to handle students and their affairs?
Development, to which some of its proponents have dubbed it as the fifth factor of production after land, labor, capital and entrepreneurship needs to be rightly tapped by quality education anchored on the right values and high moral standards. It will be of no essence having highly educated Kenyans with putrid moral standards just because we either failed to fix their behavior at a tender age or we just lost trust with our teachers. School level is the most critical stage to fix and align the behavior of our young people with the country’s development agenda and aspirations. If not well handled, as it is right now, the rot will negatively affect the country’s posterity.