My reflection this February 2014 is anchored on the just released KCSE results for the 2013 candidates. I cannot help but notice the ongoing celebrations and media coverage of those who have performed well. Schools have been ranked from the first to the bottom in terms of performance and gazetted for that matter. Parents are also reading the newspapers with new strategies to transfer their children to the best performing schools, just so they can not only perform well, but also get the social recognition and status that come by being associated with the top performing schools. Others who have failed will be forced to repeat classes so as to get higher grades, while those who have excelled will be forced to live their parents’ dream jobs by becoming lawyers, engineers, doctors regardless of their individual passions and talents. As we argue on which schools were ranked highest/last this week, My concern is on the other group of students’ whom nobody is talking about, and are feeling stigmatized for having ‘failed’. Yes. That is what our education system is teaching us-that the definition of success and development is outdoing each other by all means necessary. That unless you give back to the teacher the exact answers that he deposited in your notebook (Not Head) then you are wrong. So no room to think outside the box, no room for innovations, in the exam room (genius not allowed) and no room to be yourself for you must think like everybody else!
The reality is that even as we celebrate the winners, let us bear in mind that if EVERYONE is not going, nobody is going, from a development perspective! This is because if only half of the 446,000 candidates who sat their KCSE in 2013 will get college and university placements, then we should pose the celebrations for a moment and ask what will happen to the other half of the group because they are not blank slates! Their contribution is equally necessary in development. This is why Africa has few innovations for we have been trained to give back answers as they were dictated in our notebooks and not to dare think differently or think of new models. So we have become redundant in our mindsets! I conquer with Nyamjoh (2012), who in a critical reflection on the resilience of colonial education in Africa, argues that education is the set of values used in turn to appraise the knowledge in question. When the values are not appropriate or broadly shared, the knowledge acquired is rendered irrelevant and becomes merely cosmetic.
What this does then is to make people become robots who thrive in a routine culture of doing things, answering questions and fear being judged (marked) as wrong. To make an additional point that Nyamjoh (2012) brings out is that educating our children in this Century without any efforts to show dignity, creativity and humanity of Africans is to perpetuate the theory of Africa being the heart of darkness. At this point, I am tempted to think about what types of environment promote innovations to thrive?
This then gets me thinking, what is the way forward for an individual, a youth for that matter, and living in today’s society that defines who they are by the measure of the grade. For the society, you are as good as your grade. This can only mean that individuals should be so rooted in Christ, who is the author of our destinies to get our identity in Him to be able to stand the pressures of being defined by society. Our destiny comes in two parts-what we have been called to do and what we have been called to be. God dwells on what you have been called to be, and not even the grade can change His good plans for our lives.
Worth thinking about: Anything God calls you to do that does not involve people maybe a fantasy! In most cases, God gives you an assignment to serve people and be a blessing. Serving people is the shortest way to discover your calling, get your blessing and connect with your destiny. Don’t get so messed up because you are not in the best position. Get in your place, allow the influence that God is pulling through you to change the course of the world.