THE DEGREE SYNDROME

The anger over kids not getting into university speaks to how Kenya education has become a search for papers, rather than true learning which opens many doors at many different levels. Shouldn’t we perhaps interrogate our all-roads-lead-to-university model of schooling? – Gathara – Media personality

We are such a ridiculous nation that seemingly panics and vomits its lungs out all because one Dr. Matiang’i seems to be catching up with the cunning cartels at the Ministry of Education, TSC and Mtihani House. To the extent that a whole bunch of us have been reduced to do hues and cries and daring to tame bwana CS for what they term “mass failure”, is a joke of the year. That besides opportunistic politicians in the name of MCA’s who can barely express themselves in English left to whip emotions and emancipate cheap political mileages by storming schools to eject new Principals taking office in the new stations, is only a very sad affair. Did I also overhear and watch some parents jeer new school principals in front of their children reporting to school and accusing the head-teachers of poor track records in their former schools?

The lack of tolerance experienced with the new head-teachers’ transfers is unprecedented and perhaps underlying our inherent fears of being obsessed and trapped by the Degree syndrome. We don’t really care what our children will study in those campuses neither do we bother to care if it’ll be part of their passion. All we want them to do is score As whether faked or otherwise and go study courses they genuinely never would have qualified for, only to later miserably fail in their exams if not end up peeling off to incompetent Engineers or be it clueless Doctors if not unpassionate Computer Scientists who compromised their lecturers to award them with “favourable” grades.

Eventually, our economy gets trapped by disillusioned millennials performing jobs that they don’t even grasp the basics. What a tragedy are we succumbing to? Meanwhile, we pressure our politicians to score cheap goals by skinning a poor cabinet minister only executing and implementing his job description diligently. And since we are a country that celebrates mediocrity rather amazingly, here we are bombarded by shockwaves of a reality that has been turned around and mixed around all in tandem.

I can confirm to have interacted with a legion of fresh graduates who hardly seem to grasp the basics when they knock at our offices for attachment or employment opportunities. More surprisingly, their papers sharply contradict their personas in many instances. This alone is a hell-bent ordeal waiting to break loose to much of a shame for a country celebrating over 54 years of self-rule. As a matter of fact, students who pass through diploma level before joining campus seem to exude more seriousness and determination as opposed to the rest that just join campus to take on courses that were compelled by their cluster scores and not their own volition.

Long live the days when having a degree was the epitome of high intellectualism as opposed to our contemporary times where a degree is a mere conformity to a world driven by papers faked or forged and not substance in the form of passion-driven or talent nurtured. Iron sharpens iron and so does a country like Kenya seem to antagonise the posterity of education benchmarking. Basically, we are a nation that values more, wearing of gowns from some of the so-called campuses that have zero facilities leave alone reputable lecturers and where classes rarely have quorum apart from when exams draw near.

A bit of statistics; In 2014 Kenya had 3,073 ‘clean’ As, in 2015 had 2,636 in 2016 had 141 As while in 2017 had 142 As. While you ponder on the numbers appreciate that Dr.Matiang’i let out a confession that as early as 1990’s to 2015, exam marking was complete before Christmas holidays but wouldn’t be released just yet! Not before massaging of marks in the name of trading marks and selling of grades to the highest bidder for another two months. He further alluded that exams setting was being done over a year to the exam-commencing date to give room for leaking to interested stakeholders hence why some ‘National’ schools had the guts of attaining over 80% ‘clean’ As and A-minuses and failing to register a single A or partly less than 5 A-minuses post Matiang’i era.

While some of us complained that out of 615,772 students who wrote the 2017 KCSE exam only 176, 858 scored C- and above, the script wasn’t that different in the past; Students who scored C plus and above were 165,766 and 149,719 in 2015 and 2014 respectively. That is simply the fact.

There is hope though; Part of the benefits of the new system of education Kenya launched this year of 2-6-3-3 scraps off the obsession of ‘National Exams’ which to a very high extent built the pressure of cheating in exams. Students can now specialise in their areas of interest especially in senior secondary levels which includes Art subjects which were unceremoniously removed midway in the 8-4-4 system. The new system will also be skills-oriented rather than exam oriented where students will be moulded to all rounded personas. Talents will feature dominantly alongside their academic work unlike in the 8-4-4 system which neglected talent and focused solely on exams.

Speaking of Art which conspicuously missed in the 8-4-4 system as earlier pointed out, it’s now one of the best paying employment avenues Kenya is bragging off at the moment. In fact, the next generation will owe a lot of talent breakthroughs to the growth of Art in this country. The global media seem to have realised this and is highlighting a surge of intense interest in Pan-African Art. Some of the youngest and budding employers our country has, are doing big in matters Art investment. From Online Content Creators, Musicians, Photographers, Filmmakers, Atheists, Graphic Designs, Poets, Writers, Novel publishers and Painters just to name a few. And this has nothing to do with degree papers but purely passion that is self-dependent and not necessarily dictated by degree papers.

I’m not against university education no! I’m only opposed to the ideology that its the only road to success and that having a degree in Kenya is a matter of life and death. That shouldn’t be the case. To the parents, with all due respect don’t remain fixated on the 18th century where you condition your children to take specific careers that are a soft-spot to you and not them. If you pressure your kids to take certain courses that you so like, you are only living your dreams through them which clearly is setting them up for failure.

Let me leave it here; Show me a successful person who is living a fairly happy life working in a career he or she either has no passion or talent for?

 

 

 

 

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