Is it possible for an education system that is focused on producing standardized ways in a monolithic instructional mode be adapted to handle differences in the way individual brains are wired for learning?
The main aim of education is to teach the mind to think intensively and critically on the problems that the society faces and to provide solutions, any view of education that does not stem from this is not only misguided but is dangerous for the society. This kind of education not only creates impediments to development but also the development of an intelligent character.
When an education system flowers no responsibility for the different institutions that are existent for the smooth running of a society, cracks are bound to emerge. Such an education system denies the public values that maintain the material development of the society. Every institution that makes the mechanism of society is equally important; judges, engineers, teachers, politicians, railway workers, nurses, lawyers, farmers, drivers, astronomers …. have an equal contribution in the society and emphasis should be placed on molding the society as such.
To be a successful student in Kenya, you need the skill of absorbing and disposing; cramming loads of information and vomiting the same in the exam. This system has made students mere boats sailing through the institutions of learning for the simple motivation of jobs. It is one of the reasons why student strikes are a common phenomenon in school.
We are destroying the disinterested and those students that show different learning patterns to those that the general masses possess. Such students are seen as “not smart enough”. We are training our children to learn in harshness; where success in life is tied to papers, by doing this we have made students disinterested in learning. In such a case student are bound to revolt, strikes and arson seem to be an easier option to staying in school. There is need to have a system that teaches student to see and not merely forcing their eyes open. Every students mind is different and needs the space to thrive in its own uniqueness.
I believe that every human being is a genius in a unique way, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will believe that it is stupid; we are losing on the potential that the fish have. I am a believer in intellectual truth; imagination and breaking away from the tradition and not believing teachers out of simple respect but because of the truth they present.
No government or society can prescribe to the citizens what should precisely constitute the body of knowledge and education. Any government that does this not only shoots its foot but kills its very soul. I stepped into a university lecture three years ago thinking that it was as grand as what I see Harvard and Cambridge to be in the movies; that we would debate on great economic strategies that third world countries could employ, instead, I was confounded by the constant drilling of theories that show a disconnect between the way school works and how systems work outside school. Three years down the line, I am utterly convinced that university education in Kenya is crippled.
In the 21st century, the illiterate are not those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn. We badly need to invest in people who can find facts in the myriad of information; we need innovation and creativity if we are to spur into a first world country. The failure of our education systems in producing such people is one of the reasons why we are still complaining about high rates of unemployment.
University education has been turned into an extension of high school, where everyone feels the need to go through, to earn a position in any sector. Sectors that are governed by corruption and which rising through the corporate ladder is almost impossible, unless you know who is who in the society. University education has been so heavily commercialized that courses are not selected depending on one’s passion but on which course seems to have the promise of a fat salary. The situation on the ground in terms of job availability is very worrying. Some graduates are taking as long as four years to secure a job, some end up being employed in fields that are not in any way their specialty; under such conditions; I fail to understand why the society is surprised when a university graduate crosses the border to Somalia to join the terrorist group Al-shabaab.
I fail to understand why most secondary schools scraped technical subjects such as metal work, wood work and power mechanics in a country that produces over 200,000 high school graduates who do not make it into institutions of higher learning. Such a high number should be equipped with value based skills that can create employment for them. By adopting bold new strategies we could solve problems as vital why we are still importing Jembes, razors, plates and simple everyday commodities such as spoons and needles.
We need solution to some of Kenya’s biggest problems. Why is it taking Kenya so long to revive the coffee industry? As world market prices soar, the local farmer is getting poorer by the day. Why can’t we process our own coffee into brands that will rival Nescafe? Why is Israel; a country in a desert, teaching us on water management, does that not point to the fact that our universities are not investing enough in research? Why are we importing clothes which can be locally made? Why can’t we transform Masai products into brands that can rival Gucci and chanel?
Education is without doubt the most powerful weapon which can be used to change the world; it is our biggest asset and as such should be constantly checked, for the security of the coming generations depends on it.