Monday, July 21, 2008

The goalposts got shifted ......

In the last few days, the children in a lot of the Secondary schools in Nairobi have gone on strike.

"You What!" I hear you cry, but yes you heard it correctly - the students have gone on strike and slipped into riot mode. Windows have been smashed, classrooms vandalised and even dormitories burnt down. In one school here in town a student was killed when they got themselves trapped in the burning dormitory, and now half the schools have had to be shut down .... and all for what?

Well, the story that has come out is that their mock KCSE exams which were scheduled to start today are just too hard! (The KCSE exams are the equivalent of the GCSEs in the UK, but here in Kenya the mocks are always known for being much harder than the actual exams set by the government bodies themselves.)

I was listening to the news this morning and they were interviewing Secondary school kids who had been turned away from school and they asked them why they were striking. They came out with the exam story to start with, and when the interviewers seemed totally unimpressed as that as a reason for missing school, they then changed their tune to "Actually, the sanitation isn't up to much and our school meals are atrocious!"

Moving on and then interviewing parents about what should be done about the situation, there seemed to be one steady stream of answers and they all spelt out D I S C I P L I N E. All those adults interviewed agreed (including the presenters I might add), that 'in their day', they would never dare to do anything as wild as strike from school as the consequences would be too harsh, and these consequences would always involve a severe caning.

So there you have it, the kids go on strike, and instead of taking any notice to their actual grievances, all the adults seem to just go with "Bring back Caning", and that will solve the problem!

But hold on a second there chaps, has anyone actually listened to what they have to say.

Yes the sanitation in most of the schools is awful, the food pretty crap and the mock exams known to be utterly impossible, but hey instead of saying; "Well, in my day, that's just how it was and you should put up and be beaten for it, or just shut up", surely we should actually wake up to the fact that these things - as much as they may have been the same in our day - should surely warrant some kind of change actually!

Listening to these secondary school kids more closely, it turns out that the reason they even started all this nonsense is that they were told that as the government totally cocked up the KCSE exam results for last year, they have decided that this year they will use the mock results instead!

Considering the mocks are not standardised from school to school, are internally marked, and as I'd mentioned earlier, are much more difficult than the actual exams themselves surely seems slightly unfair to say the least, and it really isn't surprising that these students are a little bit upset! Seeing as no-one wants to listen to them, it seems they have decided that the only way to get yourselves noticed and perhaps listened to, is to do what their peers have all done in the last few months - Riot and burn!

But tell me this, is bringing back the cane really the way forward in all this??


Dad Mzungu said...


I read the report in the Nation this morning and it immediately struck me that rather than the - as youu say - "Oh, in my day..." the powers that be missed out on that vital clue - ask the kids!
Or is it considered that they are just little thugs and don't have a clue about what they want/need?
And with the PEV still frech in most people's minds, what better example to set the children?

Anonymous said...

Not fair. Not fair, in any way. I'm taking the kids' side on this. Rioting and burning or not.


DM - so right

Primal - I'm with you there!