Our country survives on stories. We rely on them to keep us laughing at our own insecurities and incapabilities.
Recently it was Jowie and Jackie Maribe. Before that Governor Obado and Sharon story.There will be many more to come; the sweet and sour and absurd. They are part of what makes us Kenyan.
There are incidents however that make headlines twice every year, and are a source of both celebration and tears across the country: the National examination results.
The Kenya Certificate of Primary Education results were rolled out yesterday-not so impromptly as the KNEC officials expected, following President Uhuru’s ‘slip of the tongue’ the previous day, alluding to the possible release of the results.
That notwithstanding, we expected the results would be released this month, barely a month and half after the exams. This is thanks to former Education CS Fred Matiang’i’s policies that helped to reduce exam cheating and collusion and streamline the process of examination marking and grading.
You will understand the fever, excitement and pressure that comes with examinations in Kenya if you have gone through the system or have a close friend who has. The narrative has it that you will be as successful in life as your exam results dictate. And therefore most times the end is made to justify the means: a student must pass his/her exams irregardless of the strategy used, be it honestly or dishonestly.
This has made education a lucrative business in Kenya. Afterall, there is a steady demand for quality grades, the customer base is really good and willing to pay and the supply by public schools is as low as it can be. Hence, private schools have sprung up in every nook and cranny of every estate, village, town and city, each with a better name than the other one: ‘Little Angels Academy’ or ‘Bright Future Group of Schools’ or ‘Highridge International Academy’ (the ‘International’ tag is a major trend nowadays).
These academies boast of state-of-the-art architecture and provide a comfortable life for their students. They have becoming baking ovens for grades, where ‘A’ grades are produced magically by the pronunciation of ‘Abracadabra’; and just like that, every candidate goes home with a heavily decorated transcript to the joy of a concerned parent.
I am not one to give rumors and therefore here is a sample to prove my point. This is a copy of results from one of the private schools in our country, I have withheld the name of the school and those of the innocent students:
See? Not in a thousand worlds can one convince me that this is an accurate picture of the academic abilities of the students in that class. Never.
For starters, primary schools do not admit students based on merit; therefore each class is bound to have students of ranging abilities. Yet you are telling me that in this particular school, the teachers and students were so good and so prepared that in Math, English and Kiswahili, every student, notwithstanding their abilities, scored a perfect grade (A), with over 95% of them scoring a perfect mark in those subjects? I am not saying that someone lied to these unsuspecting students, but I am reminded of Ed Sheeran’s song ‘but what do I know?’
We could change this whole world with a piano
Add a bass, some guitar, grab a beat and away we go
I’m just a boy with a one-man show
No university, no degree, but lord knows
Everybody’s talking ’bout exponential growth
And the stock market crashing in their portfolios
While I’ll be sitting here with a song that I wrote
Sing, love could change the world in a moment
But what do I know?
Meanwhile, before I am branded a pessimist, kudos to our top students. You did well. However, remember that being top in the exam does not qualify as a premise that you will be top in life. You will have to work your backs out and compete in a ruthlessly selfish world to make it to the top.
For those who did not meet theirs and their parents’ expectations, do not give up. The world is bigger than that and your life does not end there. In the beautiful words of Langstone Hughes:
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow
Hold fast to your dreams.
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