Acting Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i’s meeting with education stakeholders at the Coast regarding uptake of secondary school places in the region dramatised the obstacles the government faces in ensuring education for all school-going children.
The meeting followed concerns that by January 12, only 754 students had reported to high schools in the area, against 5,568 slots available. This is despite government decision to fully finance day secondary education at a capitation of Sh22,444.
The low enrollment means that other factors, other than financial, are affecting access to education in general and secondary education in particular, in the area. Children in the area risk failing to secure the knowledge, skills, aptitudes and habits of thinking that secondary educational experience imparts.
Lack of secondary education will hold back the aspirations of so many children and their families. It will also undermine prosperity and stability in the area. Leaders in the area should agonise over this, notwithstanding the fact that primary, secondary education and higher education is, by dint of the Constitution, the preserve of the national government.
The political, economic and social prospects of the counties will depend, in large measure, on a certain level of knowledge of the masses. The nation and the counties cannot satisfy their goals and objectives without an educated populace.
Conduct of government, administration, trade and industry require that the people have knowledge, skills, attitudes, habits of thinking. Basic education has the capacity to nurture the necessary literacy and numeracy skills which are the foundation for acquiring wider skills that people need to master their lives.
In principle and practice, secondary curriculum consolidates skills acquired at the primary level and the development of positive attitudes, values, personality and interests. Further secondary educational experience (in form three and four) further firms up the development and strengthening knowledge, skills and values acquired at the lower level.
The curriculum focuses on the development of interests, personality, attitudes and values, with specialisation in some fields to cater to the needs of higher education and future careers. Children cannot turn their back upon the knowledge and skills secondary education is likely to give for other attractions, however, compelling.
Secondary education improves their life’s prospects. It helps realise their innate potential and overcome the constrictions that minimal literacy provides. It strengthens their influence on the political opportunities.
The skills they receive, and the ensuing tertiary and higher education that successful secondary education makes possible, improve their socioeconomic prospects.
Secondary school graduates will make more informed decisions as citizens in electoral politics as well as public policy making and implementation. In a nutshell, secondary education and post-secondary education will make them to be their own masters. Early marriages and drugs jeopardise children’s potential.
The investments the government is making in primary education is lost if children fail to take advantage of the opportunities for further schooling. The Constitution provides for free and compulsory basic education.
The effect of this provision in law is that those who fail to take their children to school do so at the risk of arrest and imprisonment. However, the political consequences of children in any region not going to school are more devastating than the legal consequences of risking arrest. “… Illiteracy can also muffle the political opportunities of the underdog, by reducing their ability to participate in political arena and to express their demands effectively.
This can contribute directly to their insecurity, since the absence of voice in politics can entail a severe reduction of influence and the likelihood of just treatment of those who are kept on the wrong side of the gap,” Nobel prize economist, Amartya Sen observed in a speech at the Commonwealth education conference, in Scotland, Edinburgh, in 2003.
Japan has used education to modernise its economy and military ever since it instituted universal and centralised education to all classes beyond Samurai and their superiors, a privileged class, for over 150 years.
There shall, in the future, be no community with an illiterate family, nor a family with an illiterate person.” Declares in Fundamental Code of Education, 1872 in which it expressed commitment to ensure that it avails basic education opportunities to children regardless of caste.
Provision of basic education, just like in Japan, is founded on the principles of universal access, equity, quality and relevance. The idea is to have all Kenyans access quality education without regard to class, gender, religion, physical and mental condition, and in particular, region. Education is key to success in all modern spheres of life—in domestic and international arena. — The writer is the Communications Officer, Ministry of Education