Were you born around 1980 onwards? Then definitely you are 8-4-4 education system material and I guess you are proud of yourself. So let me ask for those in favor of 8-4-4 say yays and for those against it say nays?.yays have it. Ok now you looking at me and saying why do I favor the system, I really don?t but any random head account of Kenyans will show that the people who were born from 80 onwards are the majority and claiming that 8-4-4 system is a crap is by extension saying they are all craps.
The system is not the problem, the problem is with the designers of the system. It takes a child sixteen years to go through the education system not counting the nursery and one and a half years after high school before joining university. That brings a total of eighteen and a half years in school. By the way this is all about the students who proceed without repeating classes. So if you are from a village then the right time to start schooling is when you are seven years old, that is the time when you can stretch your hand to touch your opposite ears above your head. A popular way of measuring the school going age of the rural kids. For average pupil you probably get the first year tough due to new environment, bullies and being home sick most of the time. So such a pupil would most likely have to rewind class one, a sure way to ensure that his/her precious first year in school is wasted.
The match to proper education starts when the child is eight years old. By the time the kid reaches class seven he/ she is 15 years old, meaning she/ he is in the heart of adolescence. Go to any rural school and you will be told that passing class seven is not an easy task. Most average students end up repeating the class or leave the school all together and woe unto the below average ones. Then there is an issue of the teachers who are not willing to promote pupils at this stage to class eight unless they know they will perform well in the national exams to uplift the ranking of the school. It obvious by now that most kids rewinds class seven. So at the end they do KCPE when they are already as old as sixteen years. Then the four years through high school begins. After that there is almost two years wasted in between before going to campus. Before the job market gets a glimpse of such a person he would have lived the better part of his 26years of life.
By now you should start hating 8-4-4 education system because even after such elaborate time in school the end products are not yet specialize a such. Yes you will have bachelor of this or bachelor of that but really are you an authority in your field? If your answer is yes then why are most people from university still have to do some additional professional courses? Why is it so hard to get a job with just Bcom without doing CPA on top of it?
Since I am a product of the system, now let me say it without contradiction that 8-4-4 is a big waste of time and energy. Looking backwards, skills for most job requirements are learned within the last two or three years of learning. Sticking with Bcom in School of Business university of Nairobi, students choose the job market specialization courses in third year. You see where this is heading, if you are going to be a marketer or an insurer or accountant you learn that within your last two years of your bloody wasted sixteen plus years of learning.
Back to the designers of the system, I will ask what were you thinking coming up with such a no head nor tail kind of system? Education system should be purpose oriented with clear cut goals to be achieved in all steps and not know it all kind of thing being branded around in Kenya. Let marketers learn marketing from the time they are young, let bankers learn banking from their early age, let doctors be doctors and how about computer gurus let them be all through. I never understood why I kid who grow up to be an English teacher is forced to learn mathematics throughout his/her life from primary to college. If you are reading this and you are an employer or government official or just an observer tell me when in this life or next would you employ English teacher to be your accountant.
The reason why you will not find great innovators or inventors in Kenya is because the system makes all of us jerks of all trade. One clears undergraduate school at around the age of 24 to 26 years old and you are still not good enough, at this age, if you come from a poor background which most Kenyans are, the pressure to start providing for your family or taking care of you brothers and sisters is so high . At the end what is in your mind is to get any good paying job and escape from the wrath of this monster called life. Once dropped in the ocean of the corporate world, the Jobs come with routines which do not encourage any new ways of doing things.
Cast your net wide and you will understand what I am talking about, look at the people like Bill Gates, although he is a dropout he is still among the best in the computer field. The same applies to Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. Probably the reason why they are so good despite the fact that they dropped out of college is being from a good education system, which is geared towards getting the best out of the students. Making it possible to be great even before clearing college
So recently I was shocked when education officials start defending the system and claiming that the teachers are not doing their jobs properly. First there was a position paper by the Kenya Secondary School Head Association showing that only 24 per cent of the total candidates that sat for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) in the last five years attained the minimum university entry grade of C+ and above. This apparently caught education officials off gourd and they did not believe it, as if they don?t live in Kenya. By the way they live in Nairobi and recently a friend of mine told me that Nairobi is not Kenya. The education permanent secretary did what Kenyan leadership always do, instead of accepting the research and looking for its merits, he issued ?a deliver or quit? stern warning to the head teachers. They were told they are the problem since they are asking for things which would make the lives of students and teachers comfortable in school and not the essentials. To be sure I found that a bit stupid since any sane government should realize that the essential materials should be provided before being asked for. You see what the Permanent Secretary don?t understand is that bringing up well rounded educated human being require him or her to experience both the end of life and being comfortable is really part and parcel of it.
The good old professor should worry about the quality of talents produced in the country. The rapidly growing demand for skilled works across the globe has brought about competition in the international stage which Kenya should not allow itself to be left behind. He should also remember that every year there is also another side of the story whereby more than a half of the students who attain the minimum grade to university are left on the cold due to limited spaces in universities and middle level colleges. So I were him instead of demanding that teachers produce more students to go to universities I would be looking on how to expand the capacity of the higher education to rescue the more than a half qualified stranded students.
I think I would betraying my experience in schools if I let the teachers completely off the hook. Seriously back in primary school I can?t remember the time when we cleared the whole syllabus for most subjects a part from the time when I was in class seven and eight. Owing to the fact that I was in school considered among the best in the district, then your guess is as good as mine that most other schools had the worst record when come to that. Even in campus the lecturers rarely cover the whole course as stipulated in the course guidelines they happily dish out at the beginning of the semesters. Most teachers are lazy and where there is no issue of national exams they don?t bother. That bring me to question the outlook of the education overall if government was to adopt exam-free schooling advocated by many. What will show the progress of the students?