NDUBI: Salvaging a future for the desperate poor, the unbeaten path


Poverty among most Kenyan households has continued to deprive children who are thirsty for knowledge access to education. This is despite the tangible gains made over the years since the introduction of the free primary and secondary education.

The majority of secondary schools nearly implementing the policy in its spirit rank extremely poorly in performance graduating barely 10% of their population to be eligible for university admission.

These are ‘village’ and ‘district’ schools that form the bulk of post-primary institutions that charge fees nearly in line with the spirit of reducing the burden of the rural & urban poor.

Despite having to grapple with delayed disbursement of government subsidies, they are understaffed and tutors highly demotivated.

The adherence to government policy comes at a huge cost, especially when it comes to the quality of education.

Resultantly, quality education is continually becoming a luxury as bright and ambitious students from poor backgrounds are locked out, forcing them to scramble for space in the already overcrowded classrooms at a secondary school that was a lucky extension of the struggling primary unit from which they strenuously excelled from.

As much as it would be naive to think that the poorly managed system can be salvaged overnight in the current political dispensation, it is important to explore the possibility of harnessing surplus resources hoarded by various community members to better the situation.

This is to say that the crème de la crème of these institutions can be saved from degenerating into academic dwarfs by adopting what we could informally call a ‘give-back-to-society’ approach synonymous to the more familiar ‘harambee’, but this time round institutionalising the practice.

The resources quoted above should not be mistaken to mean that the ‘wealthy’ in our society should be compelled to ‘give back’ – instead it would be seen as a means of investment into the society that they live in.

As such, setting up of community-driven bursary funds where more ‘able’ members of the society can contribute at their discretion monies that will benefit children poor families as we journey to equality in terms of access to education.

If a significant enough segment of the community buy into the idea, eventually the greater majority will be naturalized and a robust fund can be set up in every county to ensure no child misses out on an opportunity to advance.

While this might be seen to only benefit the ‘gifted’ from poor backgrounds alone, it has the potential to diffuse the general sense of hopelessness among the younger generation.

Take the example of this 13-year-old boy from Githurai 45 who is yet to join Nyeri High School after scoring 389 marks in KCPE after braving untold hardships at Mwiki Primary School. The single mother is unable to raise nearly Ksh54, 000 for the 2016 year which the institution requires paid in full.

Now you can imagine the precedence this is setting for this year’s KCPE candidates at the same school who are hoping to even better the results by the boy, only to be stranded in the streets hoping for well-wishers like a day dream.

Fast-forward this to February 14, 2016 and eight Kenyan couples are now scrambling for the opportunity to blow Ksh5.4 million over one weekend in frivolities in the name of celebrating love!

A frustrated, hopeless, and demoralized child is what this unfortunate reality is creating in each of those young ones glued to a blackboard wondering what chalk is made of. In another decade, a mass of desperate youth is what the poorly educated toddlers are going to graduate into.

Education is and has always been a basic right for every child. As Africans who best understand the advantage of wholesome societal growth, the discourse should begin before the imminently unmanageable population explosion that has the potential of throwing us to anarchy in the next decade.

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Story By Eric Ndubi
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