By Banda Nyaware
Free Primary Education” purportedly offered by the Kibaki government has been a failure. Former President Moi is partly right when he pointed out this during a church service .
However, the problem with the former President is that he offers no remedy. He simply condemned as if he misses the old system where everyone was expected to pay. Such a system only favors the rich, leaving the poor in the latch, as they have been for the past 45 years.
One would hope that the grand old man would have swallowed his pride and attended the launch of Raila Odinga’s Vision for Kenya. Such a magnanimous expression would have bestowed upon Moi some credit as a statesman.
The deception in the current “free” primary school education, or that of secondary school decreed recently by Kibaki, is obvious. Neither is complete.
To fully comprehend this serious problem, I would want to posit an analogy. Suppose one were to visit a local grocery store and is offered a kilogram of sugar in a sealed package for free. The store attendant makes known to the patron that they now has a policy to make such an offer. Imagine when the patron arrives home and opens the sealed package supposedly of one kilogram of sugar only to discover it was just full of ordinary sand with some little sugar in it. This is what has happened with the current free primary education as noted in the mass failure. Majority of families who thought they had a relief, sent their children for the free education but reaped little value in the end.
The frustration and the anger many parents have endured when children comes back from school empty handed will never match that experienced by the patron with a package of sand. It is actually worse. Raila’s compulsory education with a monitored student to teacher ratio is just one of the most important factors that was missed by current plans.
The whole concept of accountability makes his plan better placed for success than any other. The plan is based on the principle that all conditions which supports learning must be provided in order to expect good performance.
When Kibaki uses the word free subliminally on issues significant and pressing as education, people easily fall for the ploy. The truth is, a child who undergoes free education must show competency in the subjects learnt. They must be profficient in language, maths, science, arts, manners and discipline. Raila’s program is more promising to offer the real free education.