As we come to the end of 2014, on behalf of my co-bloggers here, we first thank all contributors and readers/visitors to the forum for this past year. Its been a relatively quiet year but with a few scattered highlights, some very tragic such as the murderous attacks on civilians, while some quite relieving for some like the OTP dropping the ball with regards to Uhuru’s ICC case.
Overall, there is a lot of despondency particularly with non-Jubilee supporting masses. Even the typically vibrant activist communities have been taken over by Jubilee supporting tyrants. The resignation to fate can be felt in most sectors as well as cyber-sphere. Mediocre leadership is certainly quite uninspiring to say the least.
Whats interesting of course is that as predicted, popularity will morph into tyranny, the only surprise here being the speed at which its happening. And amazingly those who somehow think they are on the right side of events will suddenly find themselves in the cross-hairs of their folly, but that’s for another day.
For now we first want to wish all, A Happy and Prosperous 2015
And then I’d like to take the opportunity to touch briefly on the following three issues as we close the year
a) The CS Education decision to no longer rank schools based on the KCPE and other examinations
b) A quick glance at the laptop project
c) The coming to pass of the controversial Security bill
Its interesting to note that, finally after so many years, the ranking system is found to be non-productive resulting in its abolition.
First I want to say that I agree that the ranking was counter-productive, but thats all I share with the CS and some other folks out there. In order to solve a problem we need to define it, fully and then explore solutions. Unfortunately some of the reasons given such as cheating, etc are fairly lame. Do we stop buying cars because people died in an accident? Anyway the first question to be asked is What was the primary purpose of ranking and where when or why did it go wrong? And the second question is, by removing the ranking system are we solving any specific problem, creating new problems or simply masking/covering up a problem that we have created and cannot solve?
As we all know, an exam or assessment test is a means by which we can learn and for that matter assign measurable metrics for the purpose of bench-marking progress and/or quality etc. Each individual item in the assessment tests various measurable criteria (quality, quantity etc). From this we see that benchmarks are in fact great for progress. So where does this go wrong? Well quite simply, its where Kenyans and perhaps most colonized mentalities somehow twist benchmarking to become a criteria not for improvement, but as a means to segregate and discriminate.
E.g the famous cut-off marks for entrance to certain schools. By “ranking” student performance, certain individuals are barred from certain “high quality” schools. So the question is, what problem does ranking or its abolition solve?
What is the government (national or county) supposed to do? It is supposed to ENSURE that there are sufficient number of well resourced (staff, equipment etc) schools to cater for the school going population. i.e School A is same as B, C etc and will accommodate all the school going population. As such, there is no “cut-off” policy because and in any case school A is equivalent to B C etc. And the only real criteria should be proximity or logistic convenience to schools. A look at the schools in developed countries will demonstrate that their primary criteria is that you should be resident in the area. Low performers are assigned to catch-up programs and high performers are assigned accordingly. So ranking a school based on the collective result of individual performance of a child is fairly idiotic. Whose “fault” is it that an academically challenged individual has enrolled into a school? Conversely who takes credit because an academic genius has enrolled?
When a teacher applies the curriculum, the school may have programs that apply for all students, and in addition have special programs for that that fall below or outperform. In such a case what is being ranked? The capacity of the school to provide the special programs? or is it the quality of the standard program? Are there different metrics that could be used to “rank” the school’s resources?
Finally for a student, there is not only the academic benchmark, but also other personal development social metrics such as sports, artistic talents etc. Each of which can be nurtured in the school environment. Certainly, excellence or gifted students in whatever area, must be encouraged and even exposed to high opportunity, but at the same time, what really matters is that a quality threshold is established and the goal being to attain that threshold.
All the competitive trash emanates from a deprived colonized mindset where the slave drive arbitrarily set a criteria (based on limited resources after of course stealing from the locals) and from which only a few chosen handful would be allowed to benefit from. This practice continues to-date with elected leaders, only having a handful “loyal” sycophants, eat from the pot.
There is of course a more thorough treatment of this issue, but wanted to just highlight some of the issues
So again I ask, 1) what was the purpose of ranking? 2) What problem is being solved by removal of ranking? Removal of ranking without addressing the real underlying problems in the education sector i.e inadequate number of schools, well resourced, quality etc, then all we are doing is masking the problem i.e sweeping the dirt under the rug.
Have seen the latest comment from the CS that the laptop project is still on course http://www.nation.co.ke/news/Laptops-project-on-course-Kaimenyi/-/1056/2572686/-/sinpom/-/index.html (the DN link is currently dead). Anyhow, in the article he talks of secondary school teachers being trained. curriculum for upper primary and secondary developed etc.
My question on this is this – Wasn’t this project intended to provide laptops to Standard 1 – pupils? When will they hit form 1? Do these guys really know what they are doing, or are they just running around in circles? Among the questions we had posed a while back was, assuming that somehow that standard one kids managed to hang on to the laptops throughout that year, do they leave them behind for the incoming? or do they move with them to standard 2 and we go through the same fiasco (cash cow) tender process for the incoming? I.e when do we stop feeding the monster? In any case assuming all these guys hang on to the laptop, by the time they get to Standard 3, the equipment will be approaching obsolescence so in the third year of the program, the costs will start growing exponentially. What exactly are these guys thinking? And this is just but one aspect of the this hydra headed monster.
Security Bill Amendment 2014:
ON this, we need to analyse the bill comprehensively and we will provide a separate thread for that, but for now, just wanted to raise the concern that already, journalists are starting to feel its impact, and we are yet to find out, how many “suspects” have already been locked up and the key thrown away for a year.
Also if a terrorist attack takes place anywhere in Kenya, we will not know until the report has been sanitized by the powers that be.
Have a great New Year