BOI: Recent education reforms a restoration of hope for Kenya

Ambassador of Israel to Kenya Yahel Vilan (Right) and Education Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang'i during the signing of Memorandum of Understanding at Center For Mathematics Science and Technology Education in Africa (CEMASTEA) Nairobi at a past event.

The late Nelson Mandela once said: “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” But the dereliction to uphold this noble state amongst the new generations now threatens to throw in setbacks to communities in terms of ethics and livelihood and indeed paving way for penury, a cause that will hit the future generation harder than ever before.

Notwithstanding, an education wholly and congruently offered to our children undoubtedly contends to promise a great future of progress, proficiency and adamant momentum.

In essence, the linchpin to sustained development accompanied by the achievement of millennium goals and the country’s visionary expansion of infrastructure, healthcare, technology, security, and welfare, among other goals, lies with the good education and a deliberate focus on the dynamism and zest of the time. Progress in this sector particularly in curriculum development and examination management that had been clumsily soiled by cheating cartels to the extent of raising eyebrows of the populace should concern anyone with the best interest of the children and that of their future.

The national examinations results released late last year by Education Cabinet Secretary (CS) Dr. Matiang’i sparked an outcry following the poor results recorded by most candidates. Away from the sporadic and unconventional behavior by the CS during the release of the results like a change of time and venues of the release getting many by surprise, there is much to learn from the whole outcome as we look into the future in efforts to streamline the broken and bent edges of this very crucial sector.

Firstly, the manning work that bore fruits of no cheating cases in the exams will go a long way into the history of these examinations, considering the imperceptible levels. It will be remembered that year 2015 leakage spread was the highest ever recorded with 5,101 candidates in 305 centers having cheated and their examination results canceled.

The previous two years had indiscernible levels of cheating with 2,975 and 3, 812 cases being reported in 2014 and 2013 respectively. Worth noting is that the reported tight marking of these exams saw the release of results done promptly than usual, giving room for parents to decide what to do with their children in good time. Months down the line, the real results seem to be eliciting more reaction especially with the huge failures of individual students and traditional giant schools failing to clinch their expectations.

The positively skewed curve demonstrated by the 2016 results for KCSE level sharply differs from the negatively skewed curve in 2015. Otherwise, taking the results as they are and addressing the issues at hand is steadfastly pragmatic as opposed to the performance curve failing to be normal. After all, the purpose of the curve is to show the country where the majority lies and not to be used to disguise poor performance by the moderation of the grades to depict normality.

Incidentally, a closer look into the first KCSE exams done back in 1989, reveals that there exists a relationship to last year’s result. Whilst this may not be used compatibly for comparison due to change of times, technology, university capacity and enrollment levels, the level of integrity with which the examinations are conducted needs to be revived to zero-level cheating tolerance through enhanced collaboration since it is, by all means, possible.

As the government makes efforts to improve and address the turmoil that has taken the education sector by storm, collaboration with various stakeholders remains key. The report that ought to be compiled to source for crucial areas that need to be addressed should be taken with solemnness so as to surmount the predicament that could have brought us to this point.

On this, perhaps the teachers might have been taking us for a ride and it is the right time that they took responsibility in whatever areas they need to in terms of not only delivering properly on their teaching and coaching mandate but also playing the mentorship role that the students so dearly need from them to make more informed and prudent decisions.

Politics could be a looming snare to the sector and it is only fair that the stakeholders managing and leading the teachers; unions and Teachers Service Commission should practice more professionalism in their leadership for the sake of streamlining a system that shall save the future of this country. It is only vital to discern and cease from actions that could overturn the role of education and give it life through pragmatism in stewardship.

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