Education; Quality vs Quantity

Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, the founding father of the Kenyan nation declared war on three deadly enemies; illiteracy; poverty and disease when Kenya attained independence from the British in 1963.

Ironically, 52 years later, his son Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, whose name Uhuru implies freedom in Kiswahili is at the helm of the country’s leadership with the three enemies still wreaking havoc among Kenyans. Of all counties, among the most neglected by Jomo Kenyatta and subsequent presidents is Turkana County. It has always been classified as being among one of the most illiterate counties in Kenya with illiteracy levels standing at 94 percent.

Waiting for the national government to transform Turkana is a dream that may never come true in our lifetime. It therefore behoves the County Government to plan and strategize on ways of extricating its people from the miasma of want and neglect.

One of the key ingredients to development is quality education. The Turkana County must critically analyse the education sector in the county and come up with a formula, which while providing universal education to every Turkana child as the Kenyan Constitution 2010 promises, also assures Turkana’s of high quality education.

The county must seek numerous partners such as the World Bank, UNESCO and others to help in establishing more schools while keeping the main eye on quality. It will not be beneficial to come up with new schools when there are old ones lacking facilities.

As at 2014, Turkana County had 32 secondary schools with an approximate number of students standing at 49,000. On average, it means a secondary school hosts 1,500 students. This is still low.

I have had time to visit some schools around Turkana and I bet the number of students in those schools is small and should be merged. Some are hosted in primary schools.

Most of these schools lack basic facilities like laboratories, vehicles, and classrooms. These challenges have forced them to seek help from neighbouring schools. This could not have happened if we had few secondary schools that we could easily manage with the little available resources.

Instead of rushing to establish new schools, we should identify challenges that existing schools face and address them. We should construct dormitories, equip laboratories, build classrooms and motivate teachers. This is better than creating schools that boast of new classrooms with no fence and water.

Looking at the distribution of schools around Turkana, questions linger on. Do people who establish these schools consider the circumstances and situations? Do they consult stakeholders and education technocrats? For example, the distance between schools has been drawn to 7kms apart!

We have resources, but no proper management. This calls for a unified way of promoting education in Turkana County; for example by coordinating activities of all schools, establishing new schools, proper management of donor funds to avoid duplication and wastage.
Education is all about learning new things and exposure. Let us ensure our children learn in primary, score good grades and get admitted to new schools, which are far, which will mean traveling to new environments, to experience new challenges in terms of weather and meeting new people. This way, we will raise smart, future professionals.

There is a saying that a man does not leave his house burning to chase a rat. By focusing our energies in constructing new schools while old ones remain ill-equipped, we are behaving like the senseless man who leaves his house burning and in anger sets upon a rat.

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