By WACHIRA KIGOTHO
It is the wish of all parents to give their children the best, including a quality of education that they themselves were unable to get. This in realization education is a means to advance one’s career options.
In Kenya, for instance, even the poorest households in rural areas and urban slums are aware of the benefits of education.
According to a recent study by the International Research on Working Children, education in Kenya is seen as a means to an end and anything contrary is deemed as a plot to hold children back from their career goals.
Subsequently, the intention by the Ministry of Education to ban extra tuition in primary and secondary schools is not likely to get support from many stakeholders, irrespective of its noble objectives.
According to Minister Mutula Kilonzo, extra tuition, also known as private coaching, is a handicap to organised learning as it creates stress and tension to learners.
To some parents, private coaching is a barrier for pupils from poor families to access to education. It is an additional cost and has become an illegal means to supplement teacher’s salaries. Private coaching is also seen as a disruptive element to free learning.
Hard nut to crack
Nonetheless, extra tuition has become almost a permanent fixture in Kenya’s education system, just as it is in many other parts of the world. In addition to the extra coaching that goes on after the regular classes in both public and private schools, an orchestrated private coaching industry has emerged that include private tutoring franchises held during the holidays in private premises, churches and homes.
Ordinarily children do not learn at the same rate and have different level of understanding of the material presented in the school curriculum. In this regard, proponents of extra tuition maintain that slow learners need extra time to master the content and even to supersede their fast learning counterparts.
However, whereas the Government attests its ambitions to eradicate private coaching, it will not be an easy task as Mutula and his education officials seem to believe.
Dr Mark Bray, a former Director of Unesco’s International Institute for Educational Planning, says private coaching has emerged as a global ‘shadow education’ system with roots almost in every country.