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Quest for top notch education informed by desire for high social standing

James Momanyi @jamomanyi

Parents are opting for international schools and are ready to pay what it takes, not necessarily because of the academic performance their children will achieve, but rather because of social class and the attendant lifestyle. “People pay for the social standing they are getting.

They just want to belong to a certain exclusive club,” said Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development chairperson, Dr Sarah Ruto Ruto is however, worried that although increase in the number of international schools is giving Kenyans a choice, the country might not be getting the full pie.

“The millions of profit these schools make go abroad. It would have made sense if these schools are owned and managed by Kenyans. They benefit outsiders more.”

The selling point of most of the international schools, apart from the foreign curriculum, is the kind of infrastructure the students will enjoy. Additionally, it is the mention that graduates of their schools get snapped up quick by Ivy League universities.

Most international schools offer British curriculum leading to GCE/ IGCSE certificates. Others offer the North American High School Diploma, International Baccalaureate (IB) and European Baccalaureate (EB) diplomas.

According to Crawford International Schools Kenya managing director Jenny Coetzee their schools offer flexible, individualised timetabling that allows students to choose a wide range of subjects, including unique offerings such as cryptocurrencies and blockchain education in technology.

Science, technology, engineering and maths education is conducted through the renowned GO-Lab programme, with integrated interdisciplinary project-based leaning.

The International School of Kenya (ISK), which charges parents Sh2.9 million a year (fee and other charges), serves the educational needs of both expatriate and Kenyan students who seek a challenging, North American curriculum together with the rigorous International Baccalaureate Diploma programme.

According to their website, the students come from 60 different nationalities and of the 870 students, only 10 per cent are locals while the rest are international! Apart from English, the students also learn French, Spanish and Kiswahili.

Apart from academics, the students engage in all sports including golf and tennis in the 40 acres piece of land. The school also has solar-heated swimming pool, two large and two small playing fields, tennis courts and playgrounds. The students take part in International Schools of Southern and Eastern Africa tournaments.

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