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LET’S HAVE A SOBER DISCUSSION TO HEAL KENYA`S EDUCATION SECTOR

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LET’S HAVE A SOBER DISCUSSION TO HEAL KENYA`S EDUCATION SECTOR

January 13 th.

 

At the onset, it would be vital to reflect why we are here. Analysis after analysis shows that to enhance education standards, the need of a robust monitoring and evaluation system is a sine qua non. Inevitably, exams as a constitutional texture are one of the methods applicable in Kenya. For some epoch in our history, exams have been just another exam that has tested the integrity of the education rights enshrined in the Constitution. Many had become pessimistic that despite the heavy investment in education by both Government and various stakeholders including teachers, parents and communities, the corresponding methodology of evaluation and its associated outcomes never matched a similar triumph. More recently in 2015, exam papers were allegedly hoarded and sold to the highest bidders occasioning the cancellation of over 5,000 results.

The landmark processing of the 2016 KCPE and KCSE national examinations has sent a wakeup call to all and sundry. This was Kenya`s first time in a long time when exams are done and twin results announced in a single year without irregularities. It is this move by the Ministry of Education to enhance efficiency and credibility which has as expected; received praise and condemnation in equal measure. The latest condemnation is hinged on lack of standardization and use of a uniform grading system as had been custom. The argument is; if you go to purchase 1 Kg of meat from a butcher; if the meat on the scale does not balance; the butcher should add bones to adjust the weight accordingly! No.

It should be recalled that an exam is an official assessment that tests the understanding achieved by a student/pupil whose indicators are “earned” scores.  This negates the need for calibrations or lowering the pendulum to meet a lower performance. The MoE should be praised for not adding bones to the meat. It will be sad if the 2017 KCPE/KCSE will refuse to be assessed against a credible evaluation system.  This should speak to the 2017 candidates: pull up your socks, meet the standards and earn the straight As you desire.

There has been continuous review and reform of the sector commenced at independence by the Ominde Commission to date. It should be recalled there is a particular need to model education approach and behaviour as the country prepares the necessary skills needed to meet its Vision 2030 goals. Focus on examinations will thus tend to dilute implementation of the much needed reforms. We should now hail and embrace the Universal rights to education and ask ourselves how to benchmark with the best and provide the best education policies and standards. More deeply, we should reflect Kenya`s broader values such as integrity and accountability, human rights, gender equality and the effectiveness of institutions within and without our formal education system. 

Much more is anticipated.

 

Written by

 

Jacob Otachi (PhD Candidate in Governance, JKUAT). 

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