The Education ministry may be one of the busiest ministries this time of the year. They have just concluded administering two national exams. The first one for the primary schools was marked in record time and the results released to the candidates.
The ministry says that they are on course to release the second set of exam results, those of the secondary school students, hopefully again in record time.
The ministry has continued on the track that former Cabinet secretary, Fred Matiang’i started. Hardly any significant cases of cheating in the exams have been recorded. With regard to the primary exams, the ministry has already completed secondary schools selection process.
There are the popular schools that are the dream of every student: Alliance Girls, Alliance Boys, Starehe Boys Centre, among others. Reports coming out of the selection centres suggest that some bright students may have been posted to some schools that could be equally good but are located in far parts of the country.
As the students who have been posted say their piece of how they are grieved that they are not being sent to the schools of their choices, may be it is time that the whole process is examined to explore the advantage of sending some of the students to different parts of the country as a national policy to contribute to national integration.
This nation is heavily tribal. Some individuals have always lived in their part of the country. They grew up in some locations, attended the local primary, secondary schools, and now with the proliferation of universities could be destined to attend university in their neighbourhoods.
Such people may not likely to have the slightest chance to be exposed to a different part of the country, people and meet other Kenyans.
Going to high school outside their county then provides an opportunity for exposure, to visit a different part of the country and meet different people, eat different foods and generally to be more exposed.
Of course, there is the question of individual choices, the freedoms of which everybody should have the right to exercise.
But the government has a responsibility to help manage the integration of the country and in a liberal constitutional set-up such as the one we have, there are very limited options that the State has without the danger of violating the law.
Deliberate measures to integrate citizens, and particularly at such an early age, in high school, may be one of them. The government has already made efforts in creating more national schools.
Maybe there is even a gain to be made by distributing bright students across the country to serve as role models and spur students in these other regions. Of course, there will be the argument that well-performing schools such as the Alliances give bright students a better shot for entry to the university.
But bright students are already favourably predisposed to doing well and any good school should do. If anything, the schools perceived to be good should be used to give a chance to the more average students so that they can improve their performance and by extension their chances of proceeding with their studies. — The writer is Dean, School of Communication at Daystar University