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Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Mutula Kilonzo: From ‘Skirty’ Issues to Banning Holiday Tuition

Hardly had the dust settled on the media sensationalized-short skirts in girls’ schools- ruckus than the infamous Education Minister Mutula Kilonzo slapped a ban on Holiday tuition in both private and public primary and secondary schools.

If  you are not in the know,{..sighs*rolls eyes*..}the Minister declared tuition a violation of children’s constitutional right as provided for under the Bill of Rights; Article 5 of the Kenyan Constitution to be precise. He hence issued a directive stopping any kind of institutionalized and paid for remedial teachings countrywide adding that anyone found disregarding this order will be dealt with according to the law. Love him or hate him, Mutula is not only a straight talker but a man of his word.

Education Minister Mutula Kilonzo has been 'accused of skirting issues'
The argument propagated by most teachers that extra tuition was meant to be a period for teachers to cover the syllabus in time in preparation for the final exams did not augur well with Mutula. He instead proposed a review of the curriculum to be in sync with the regular school terms workload.

You see, the minister would like children to be just that; children. Allow me to give you a sneak preview into Mutula’s visionary and idealistic world for a minute….

Let’s say schools have closed for the holidays. He (Mutula} envisions children travelling to upcountry to visit their grandparents. While there they sit cozy around the fire at night singing traditional songs while listening to folktales about Neanderthal tribal legends told by their beloved grandfather as they sip on grandma’s fermented milk. As sleep overcomes them one by one they are carefully carried to their sleeping areas {usually mattresses around grandma’s bed..}.In the morning, the children wake up to love and kisses from the old folk. They then proceed to the cow shed to watch grandma milk the cows before she prepares a hearty meal consisting of arrow roots, pumpkins, boiled maize cobs, cassava, groundnuts and porridge just to mention but a few. After consuming the heavy breakfast, the boys will then tag along as their grandfather and their village cousins go to the grazing fields to tend to the cattle as the girls remain behind to help grandma with house chores.

Cool, huh?

Ok, back to the real world…

Mutula is instead being bashed by stakeholders in the education sector-parents included-for his ‘meddling’ in issues that should be of his least concern like holiday tuition.

I recall how in our primary school days we really enjoyed ourselves prior to the holiday breaks. We actually looked forward to ‘clozi’ {closing days} since we knew that was the beginning of everything fun. That’s the day we spent our hard saved cash to spoil ourselves in little niceties {Sambusas,Chips,Soda,Mabuyu etc}It was also the day we settled grudges with terminal foes in beat downs that assured mutual respect for the winner as the undisputed Alpha Male/Female{read “First Boddy”}

When the schools closed officially we were catapulted to the idealist Mutula World {as visualized in an earlier paragraph}.For those who couldn’t make it to upcountry they had to make do with church camps, family trips, visiting relatives or noisy games around the hood{Kati, police & robbers, tin car safari rallies,shake,kalongo-longo etc}

At the end of the day our parents-strict as ever-ensured that we had at least an hour or two of serious revision-past papers and schools work-after supper before retiring to bed.

Bright faces of children on closing day?
All these made for interesting English and Swahili compositions when schools reopened since teachers had a tendency of asking us to write about our holidays-woe unto you if you had nothing to write about and had to make up a fun story to top the other kids’.

See how we turned out-just fine-even without strenuous 2-3 weeks holiday tuition!

It’s sad that teachers and education stakeholders have for a long time been selfishly denying school going children this inalienable right to be children. They have hidden behind the guise of wanting to improve schools and individual student performance through exorbitant remedial coaching.

Consider this for example: A student in a public secondary school comes home for holiday with two letters.One of the letters is the third term fee structure and the other a notification of a mandatory 2 week tuition class. The third term fee reads Ksh 1,800 while the tuition fee ironically reads...wait for it… Ksh 3,000! 

Now let’s do a simple maths quiz: In a school that has a stream of 4 classes with an average of 40 kids per class on mandatory tuition from Class 4:-{5 Classes of 4 Stream*Ksh 3000 from 40Students} i.e. {20*3000*40} = Ksh 2.4Million!Say, there are about 20 teachers in that school for that two week period = 2400000/20 = Ksh 120,000!A good take home that is ten times the salary of the average high school teacher! You get my drift #extortion 101.

I agree with Mutula that tuition is acceptable for examinable classes-Class 7/8 and Form 3 and 4 candidates together with learners who demonstrate weaknesses in some subjects. In such instances the parent is at liberty to organize for a private tuition outside school to improve on the child’s weaknesses rather than subjecting the entire classroom and/ or school to extra coaching at the expense of students enjoying their holiday.

Children in a remedial class

The only downside to the tuition ban is that upon resumption during third term, teachers might decide to engage a silent go-slow that will culminate into dismal performance of KCPE/KCSE candidates from 2012 onwards; mark my words.

As a parent myself, burdened by the pressures of the high cost of living coupled with economic hardships, I’d be damned if I still have to part with the tuition fee on top of the fee balance. I’d rather have my child study from home under close supervision. If need be, since I believe my brain is still brilliant, I’d invoke my medulla oblongata to help out my child in some basic arithmetic or sciences. I’d go even further to encourage my child to liase with other kids in the neighbourhood to form study groups. Let alone that, I remember we used to go to the Kenya National Library to study and also gather resources and study material for free! I know times have changed, but i can bet they haven’t changed that much.

As parents, we should not delegate our duties as supervisors and role models to our children to teachers as we relegate into other matters that we deem important. Our children are our responsibility and that’s just it. Education is the key to our kids future but we as parents ought to know that there is only so much a human brain can absorb before it-like a computer-either hangs or crushes.

Finally, in the pursuit of sterling performance for our kids as parents and the prestige of our school as teachers/educationists, we end up pushing them to their limits. They might pass the exams with flying colors and elevate us as parent to be the envy of our peers or as the institution to national glory but at what cost?

Let the children play and enjoy themselves
Let us be careful not to condemn our children to being mindless/robotic members of society who have been micro chipped with education to pass exams. This can be detrimental to their overall growth as decent human beings who lack social values and life skills that are encrypted in their freedom to be what they were denied to be in the first place; Children!

The Scribe Rests his Pen!

1 comment:

  1. I love your article Sean~THE SCRIBE. You have reminded me of very nostalgic moments of my childhood,they are long gone lyk wind. Mutula will be remembered...