ACADEMIC FIRES…..

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Meru School students leave following the closure of the institution after unrest, July 9, 2018./GERALD MUTETHIA
Meru School students leave following the closure of the institution after unrest, July 9, 2018./GERALD MUTETHIA

When Dr. Fred Matiang’i left the Ministry of Education for the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government where he had been the cabinet secretary for close to two years overseeing rapid transformation of an ailing sector where exam cheating was idolized,manipulation of results through ‘standardization’ was normalized and exam leakage was the order of the day. He reigned on cartels who had formed a formidable partnership with principals in exam manipulation skewing the field to favor the haves at the expense of the have nots.

The education sector was in shambles, it shifted from being a process to an outcome the A madness had taken over. Principals focused on amassing as many A’s as possible so that they can receive backdoor kickbacks from parents who were hell-bent at ensuring their children went to those A schools, the ones that almost everyone got an A with a few confused elements getting A- and B+ dragging the school mean score to 11.7 or thereabouts. Everyone in this tier one schools made it to campus with a high bargaining power for the top courses be it Medicine,Architecture or Engineering through the government self sponsored programme (GSSP), which is heavily subsidized by the government saving their respective parents of shouldering the burden of the parallel programme which was lucrative to both the private and public universities. Money from parallel programmes run public universities whereas they are the sole reason private universities are in business.Without adequate ‘raw materials’ then both will be in huge problems.

The departure of CS Matiang’i who had successfully managed to interfere with the business of producing A’s in the national examinations of 2016 where all students who got C+ and above were entitled for GSSP programs in university as opposed to B plain in previous years. The number of students who got the C+ and above was less than 90,000 yet in the previous years the number was as high as 150,000. There were mixed reactions from various quarters but majority of Kenyans were happy with the reforms which exposed the rot at the sector that saw taxpayers money lost by students who changed causes midway due to difficulties to cope up with the pace whereas needy deserving students were technically locked out from their preferred academic courses.

The Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) was the ‘Bermuda Triangle’ of exam mischief, results went in as A’s only to come out as B’s whereas C’s came out as A’s as long as your parent,principal or school could reach a favorable agreement within the bureaucrats at Mtihani. The appointment of ‘Mr. No fear No Favor’ Professor George Magoha a no nonsense person since his days as Vice Chancellor of The University of Nairobi as the chairman of the institution breath new life to an institution that was dead. His tag team partnership with Dr. Matiang’i smoked out rogue exam administrators ending the everyone gets an A madness that was against the normal distribution curve.

The credibility of the 2017 national exams, Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) wasn’t brought to sharp focus like in 2016 where it was given a clean bill of health since Kenyans were more concerned with elections, Dr. Matiang’i was handling two ministries Education and Interior, business was bad for private universities and pressure was very high for some principals to bounce back thus there were rumors that some schools got undue advantage in the ensuing academic competition. There are deep suspicions that some ‘big’ schools already have the exam leakage and are in the process of coming up with a marking schemes that will be duplicated to their answer sheets at the opportune time raising their mean score.This suspicion is what is causing unrest in schools though it is seen as a ‘Luo Nyanza’ region other regions will also join the fray within the next few weeks.Threats by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to include the heinous acts as criminal records that will reflect on their certificates of good conducts and the ministry directive to principals to provide daily reports on the state of affairs in their respective schools won’t contain the situation as exams like elections in this country are a matter of life and death.

Exit CS Matiang’i entry CS Amina Mohammed who has pledged to sustain her predecessors reforms. Her management style is different from Matiang’i hands on approach is what is causing ripples in the sector with students exhibiting madness of coercing principals and teachers to shape up or ship out when it comes to abetting exam cheating. Form four students,parents through the Parent Teachers Association (PTA) and Board of Governors/Directors  have been holding principals at ransom though no principal in his or her right state of mind will come out to say they are under siege as they will be seen as weaklings who lack leadership skills.Those who have refused to shape up have seen their schools closed indefinitely due to torched dormitories and choreographed restlessness.

The media will frame the headlines as ‘Nyanza’ schools on fire, until schools from other regions join the fray by the time the second term is over many schools will be on fire,students will be sent home indefinitely,the media will invite academic experts to put things into perspective with their ever shallow narratives,principals will be under duress to deliver favorable results,public confidence on CS Amina will be at an all time low coupled with poor performance at the national exams this year there will be a public outcry on how she has failed to take control of her ministry forcing her to step aside for lighter duties or transfer to another ministry.The cartels will try influencing her replacement by a ‘friendlier’ cabinet cecretary who will be good for business. Schools are striking because Principals have refused to cooperate in abetting exam cheating everything else is a sideshow that belongs to Ali Baba and the 40 thieves from rape allegations,new school bus alert,we don’t want teacher X and new principal Y, lack of ‘consultation’ to poor diet.

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