By Samuel Kablit (2015)
Turkana County has always been classified among many others as one of the most illiterate counties in Kenya standing at 94 per cent illiteracy level for some decades now.
While this was among what the first President of our country had pledged to tackle during his time, nothing to date has happened.
Governments came over and in their manifestos promised to tackle illiteracy. But Turkana is yet to experience this.
Turkana County has many secondary schools. We know illiteracy is one of our many challenges, but we do not have to over exaggerate the situation.
It is good and advisable to invest in Turkana education. But we need to look at what we really need in the education sector.
Do we need quantity so that we establish many schools? Or we need quality and concentrate all our efforts to make it so? 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 facilities like laboratories, vehicles, classrooms. These challenges have forced these schools to seek help from neighboring schools. This could not have happened if we had few secondary schools that we could easily manage with the little available resources.
Instead of establishing new schools, we should identify challenges that existing schools face and fund them; construct dormitories, construct and equip laboratories; motivate teachers to give their best. This is better than creating schools that boast of two 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 7 kilometres 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.
Finally I call upon education stakeholders to look into the issue of the many schools in the county and devise measures to ensure education promotion.
I suggest we stop establishing more schools and look at how we can improve the existing ones. Going forward we need a structured way of establishing new schools in view to promoting quality, affordability and efficiency in education.
Samuel Kablit is a youth leader and the Co- Founder of Article 43, a local NGO.