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Thursday, 5 January 2012

KCPE 2011: Genetic Dunderheads?

Last week I had a seemingly never ending debate with my colleagues at work on the dismal performance of school children in national exams in light of the 2011 KCPE results.

This debate was occasioned by demos by parents countrywide in a bid to oust head teachers whom they blamed for a below par show by their kids in the national exams.

Protesting parents have in the past weeks since the release of the exams been holding demos and storming poor performing school premises baying for the blood of the school heads.

What became apparent from the debate is that some kids are ‘genetically engineered’ to be dunderheads!

I bet you are thinking that is a shallow point of view, right? Well, before you crucify me in your minds and close the browser let me expound.

As a young boy, I can recall many a time in our neighborhood we used to hear some of those late night house dramas where the father would be heard in the midst of a heated argument abusing one of his kids,”..mjinga kama mama yako…”…{ are as stupid as your mother…}

This kind of verbal abuse to say the least tends to have a negative psychological effect to any kid trying to do his/her best at school only to be reprimanded this harshly by his own father. Such a kid would just throw his hands in the air in despair since they see no value in education. We had a number of such kids in our neighborhood and they ended up being the bullies and petty thiefs of our times.

A candidate sitting for KCPE
 Well, what parent wouldn’t want to bask in the glory of success and excellence in the eyes of a young aspiring intellectual, who happens to be their offspring?

But that is just it. Some of my colleagues argued that an intellectually disabled parent -if I am to use such a diplomatic term- would ‘naturally ‘give rise to a dunderhead since the fruit does not fall too far from the tree.

I am sure when you were growing up, your parents, your dad in particular used to tell you he was top of his class from the time he was in baby class until he cleared his education.

I am certain, you fell for that, hook, line and sinker, until one of his classmates came to visit him one day and he also claimed that he was top of his class!#Busted#

That is why as parents we strive to give our children the best of what we never had. We will send them to the best schools and spend so much money in remedial classes to boost their grades. During their holidays we will try to balance their leisure time but still squeeze in some time for extra tuition in the hope that this will amount to something good when they go back to school.

Martin W. Irungu - Top KCPE candidate 2011

It is thus very heart breaking when at the end of eight years or 12 years {in the case of Form 4’s} they come home with not so favorable result slips that still put you as a parent in an awkward position because you now have to dedicate time {and money} to look for a decent school for them to go to.

The office debate we had, expressed that if a child is born a dimwit then that’s his fate unless a miracle happens. My colleagues alleged that this was why if you take the worst performing child in any school and take him to one of the best schools in town, he will still exhibit dunderheadism!

 I was opposed to this thought process, so I said that if a child is given a conducive environment to perform with the best resources to help them learn, they will exceed expectations for sure.

Case in point #most of the poor performing schools in the 2011 KCPE were from Kisii and the Coast Province. If you are objective enough to look into why this is the case you will realize that these schools lack basic facilities like decent buildings, furniture and blackboards {pupils still sit on stones and write on sand},no school feeding programme, the teachers are not motivated and this trickles down to the pupils.I can go on and on.

Flip the script and consider urban schools with whom they are competing with. They have all these resources and much more. How then do you expect them to compete on an equal footing? Get my point?

Here’s my two cents...

A good foundation in basic education can mould any mind to excel. No one was born stupid and no parent should impose that upon their kids psyche. How do then explain street children who had a late start in life and education doing so well in National exams; better than the average kid in a conducive environment.

The government also needs to be serious in ensuring equality in our educational institutions so that our kids are exposed to a comprehensive curriculum that makes them open minded to in tap into their intellect and their natural talents.

What we, as a society need to do is encourage our children by being positive mentors. We should tap into the talents of those kids we realize are struggling with school work. That’s why we have the concept of book smart and street smart. 

There are a myriads of examples I could mention to reinforce my point, but that’s a topic for another day.

What’s your take on this?

The Scribe rests his Pen.......


  1. You're right, Scribe. Unfortunately, as things now stand, the rift between private and public education evolves into a gaping abyss down the wire. A bad start threatens bad future; too bad it all comes down to money. Sort of unfair too.

  2. @Untonyto,i concur!With the Education Ministry neglecting Public schools in provision of basic learning amenities & Private schools being run like business establishment at the expense of learning,the gaping hole is bound to get wider.I foresee parents taking up ownership of education by embracing 'Western' concepts like Home Schooling!Lets watch the space.