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I THINK I MIGHT HOME-SCHOOL MY KIDS It may seem like a joke or far-fetched idea but I am honestly considering home-schooling my children

if I ever have any. I believe it is a cruel and unusual punishment to subject my children to the Kenyan school system especially since I believe they will learn more from me than they ever will in most Kenyan schools whether public or private. From the conversations with and questions from my cousin and others who seem set to get more than 400 marks in this years KCPE it is clear to me that the schools, especially the private ones, are simply teaching the students to pass exams while the students are not learning much else. Their reasoning stops where the books stop and where logic is required they always seem to suffer. Their ability to put answers down is impeccable but their understanding of many simple concepts is rather weak. Increasingly many parents are fooled by the allure of private schools without realizing that these schools are actually the ones that have perfected the art of passing exams. These schools may have the resources to mix things up a bit with trips and extra-curricular activities but the system of examination is such that these trips dont amount to learning experiences. The students will rarely appreciate what they see on these trips because at the end of the day it all comes down to passing the KCPE and the means for doing that is already within reach for these elite schools. Many students pass because of their ability to reproduce what they have been taught to reproduce and these students dont really own the information that they put down. They are unable to see the connection that this information has with their lives and thus they rarely understand it and it will never be of any use to them in life except when it comes to passing exams and getting into the supposedly better high schools.

It may or may not surprise parents that many of the students are given models to follow, expressions and vocabulary to use in compositions and inshas. In doing this, most of these students will never light the creative spark inside them because it will probably exist outside the model that they are required to follow in order to pass exams. This is something I relate to well because I had a teacher who taught composition writing in the same way. While he gave us the passion that made us own the language he never really allowed us to write the words we owned. I have a vague recollection of the Insha I wrote for KCPE. It was poor and I scored 79 in Kiswahili. I have no recollection whatsoever of the composition I wrote and I got 96 out of a hundred in English. What saved me was that I was lucky not to have gone to the so called high school of my dreams. I ended up in one where the teachers helped us to learn although even there the tides started to change at the end. Most Kenyans dont understand that every year we doom our children to schools that subject them to a constant state of examination as opposed to a constant state of learning and those that pass exams move ahead and those that fail stay behind but very few of them learn anything before they join university. Parents have forgotten to ask their children what they learnt at school and only want to know what marks they scored and what position they were in class. Most people complain of the half-baked graduates from universities but few people notice the half-baked students that go into the universities. These are students who know only how to give back to teachers what the teachers have given to them. These are students who will make good employees one day but will rarely create wealth. These are the students that learn how to answer questions but never know why the answer is right. These are the students who are taught how to pass examinations and I cannot let my kids become like them.

Xol Lusam