Address leadership vacuum in education in Turkana County
BY DR JOHN TERIA NG’ASIKE
The primary school system in the county has been dependent on feeding programmes to keep the children in school, as the lack of teachers and learning materials literally make them unfriendly for the children. Even with the devolved government, education in Turkana continues to lack focus. One would expect that with all the apathy in education in Turkana resulting from many years of neglect and historical marginalization, that Turkana County Government would approach education matters with urgency. There has been persistent under investment in education in the county for the last 50 years since independence and as a result many schools in Turkana, especially primary schools, are in poor state of neglect and their infrastructure is seriously wanting. They also lack teachers. The primary school system in the county has been dependent on feeding programmes to keep the children in school as the lack of teachers and learning materials literally make them unfriendly for children. Children would rather stay home instead of reporting to that have no teachers or learning materials. They would rather continue with their nomadic lifestyle that they deem to be full of fun during the rainy seasons so that they can hang around with their livestock as they hunt wild animals. A system of education that survives on food handouts is unsustainable and one would expect emerging County leaders to inject new vision into our education system. Education is the only of fighting poverty, improving health, respect for human rights and the sure way to empower women and girls in development opportunities. Yet our leaders seem to lack ideas and are showing disregard to education. My view is that investment in education is the surest way to change the life of Turkana people by reducing dependency on livestock, which have suffered persistent attack from rustlers and drought.
Families whose children finished school and are working are better than families who depend entirely on livestock. Families with educated members are more likely to make informed choices, as they are not easily manipulated and induced with money to vote. These families have income from their educated children and are informed by their educated children on matters of democracy. As long as the majority of Turkana people are uneducated, democracy would be hard to come by. We know that if it were not for the church, we would not have had the schools that the national government claims to elevate to national schools and which it claims to own in Kenya. We know also that majority of the current leaders were educated courtesy of the churches in Turkana. Why would a sensible Turkana leader not invest in education? We are always complaining and arguing within ourselves and yet wer spent huge money on unsustainable projects. When will we as Turkana leaders take over the management of education? We have depended on people from outside to run our schools and educate our children. For example, take a look at our main primary schools, starting from Lodwar primary, Kanamkemer, and others. These schools are run by teachers from outside Turkana. How long will this continue? Where are the Turkana head teachers? Value education Does this mean that Turkanas themselves do not value educating their own people and do not value the knowledge of their own people. Every good thing in education has to come either from the church or from teachers who are from outside the County. Does it mean we do not have strong educated people in Turkana to take up education leadership, especially at primary level? I challenge the few Turkana head teachers of high schools to take up their positions seriously and create confidence in our community in ways that trust is developed among our own people in education leadership.
Dr John Teria Ng’asike, PhD, is early childhood education specialist and curriculum expert lecturer at Kenyatta University and currently a Visiting Scholar at Oslo University, Norway.
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