By Susan Karimi
Something worries me, so let me pen my thoughts down.
For years in Kenya, starting with the St. Kizito high school incidence during Moi’s era, we have seen schools being burnt down and students have always been deemed the culprits. Well, investigations have to be done before it’s conclude to be so. Anyway, that’s not what I am about today. My issue is with the narrative that’s being pushed that the cause of student unrest in high schools is with boarding schools and all manner of people are now advocating for the MoE to do away with boarding schools.
Are boarding schools really the problem? Could we kindly take a step back and evaluate what it means to have boarding schools, before we start pushing for another mistake like we did with the second phase of 8-4-4 system? When the old 8-4-4 started, it was to solve a problem with the colonial education system and solve it did, until when I believe parents started thinking their children didn’t need the skills and started asking for a change. Believing that kids were over burdened with so much school work, parents pushed for subjects such as home science, agriculture, arts and craft, music, business studies etc to be scrapped off the curriculum, giving room to what I do dub as the second phase of 8-4-4. It wasn’t long before again parents started to agitate for change after finding fault again, giving birth to the CBC system, which even before it’s started crawling, parents are once again asking to change!!!…. Oh Kenyans! But anyway, I digress…..Back to boarding schools!
These boarding schools exist to serve a purpose. Kenya is yet to reach a level where each county can proudly say they have good schools. Take for example, how many national level schools do we have in Moyale or Marsabit? Or should I say Turkana, maybe Sololo or Elwak? These are all parts of Kenya and we have bright, intelligent children there too and despite their marginalised counties/ regions not having good primary education, these children live with the hope of joining good high schools on performing well in their national primary school exams. They live with the hope of an opportunity to compete and learn with others in the country, who are of the same academic prowess as them in these “good” schools that are unfortunately not within their neighbourhoods!
Now, can we then stop and think what it would mean for such a child if we did away with boarding schools? A boarding school enables a child from these marginalised areas to have an opportunity to join a school that provides him or her with an enabling learning environment where they can focus and define their future without the worry of traveling miles to get to a school. Mark you, I didn’t say “get to a good school because they are nonexistent in their areas.
Now we have urban parents who have the leisure of good schools around them and they think all government policies should be defined to suit them and theirs. Eish! Of course, they wouldn’t mind the inconvenience of driving from Kitengela daily to get their child to Alliance, forgetting a child in Moyale also desires the Alliance. Boarding schools, in pursuit of equality, prefer that all students board.
There are many day schools around you urban parents. If your child cannot fit in a boarding school, please remove them and take them to the day schools and stop pushing for the abolishing of boarding schools. Its not a must your child be in a boarding school, but it’s a matter of necessity for another child. Get yours out and leave those who see the need for boarding to stay on. Many of these not so privileged kids sweat at the mere thought of traveling back home because of a midterm, leave alone a school burning. Allow them the peace of being in boarding, by removing yours who doesn’t want to be in boarding school. There are those from urban areas who would also rather not spend hours in traffic just to get to school. So stop assuming that simply because we have some spoilt brats in schools, that things should change to fit their whimps. Think of the others too. That said it doesn’t mean I don’t have a bone to pick with boarding schools and the military camps they have become, but that is a story for another day!