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Bravo, Dr Matiang’i, just stay the course

By Alexander Chagema | January 12th 2017

Arbitration is principally a function of the Judiciary. Ordinarily, aggrieved parties seek recourse in a court of law, whose decisions are binding. The speed, the manner of marking and release of the 2016 Kenya Certificate of Primary Examinations and the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examination results left many agape.

The resultant reactions and discourses in the media on the implications have been interesting to follow. One can however easily determine that those demanding Matiang’i’s scalp really don’t have much of a case; theirs is a hangover from a disturbed status quo.

And, from where I sit, the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and the Trade Unions Congress; both led by Wilson Sossion as Secretary General, have a feeble case, if at all.

That Knut, rather than seek recourse in court opted to write to Parliament and President Kenyatta to register their complaint points to mischief. Knut could be banking on doctored degree holders in Parliament and other influential positions to gang up to impeach Matiang’i to preclude a purge on them in order to maintain the status quo and revert to cartels.

There is dishonesty in writing to Parliament when it is on recess for it shows there was no urgency. That was the betrayer that Knut has nothing weighty against Matiang’i and Knec that a competent court won’t throw out the window. Knut, as I see it, is playing jejune politics.

Parliament has lately acquitted itself more as an ignoble house where political, even personal scores are settled than anything else.

What better proof than the shambolic vetting exercises through which Parliament approves dubious individuals for public appointments only to be engulfed in scandals?

Despite her impeccable credentials, MPs once declined to approve Dr Monica Juma’s appointment to the post of Head of the Civil Service because she stood up to them.

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Phrases like ‘normal curve’, ‘standardisation’ and ‘moderation’ are all but synonyms for sleight of hand; padding, if you like. That is because they are designed to camouflage reality; more like putting on perfume to cover the stinky smell of sweat.

Knut’s contention that Matiang’i negated ‘professional processes of marking that have been used for years’ holds no water. The mere act of using a system or formula for years does not make it perfect if at some point flaws are discernible; just as much as a crime repeatedly committed over time does not become legit because the culprit has not been caught in the act.

In 2010 we thought we had the perfect constitution; look where it has landed us.

Proceeding from the premise that Matiang’i knows not you, your son or daughter; that neither him nor Prof Magoha were actively involved in the actual marking of exam papers, what reasons do they have to deny candidates the grades they deserve?

Does Knut know something we ordinary Kenyans do not know; like illegal instructions to deliberately accord lower marks or curtail certain schools? In that case, the thousands of teachers who marked the exams have good reason to go to court.

The straw that is the catchy, yet meaningless phrases used to advance flawed arguments which anti-Matiang’is cling to is fragile. Such deceptive standards mask the reality that ultimately is responsible for the dip in the standards of education and the quality of graduates that even the job market is apprehensive of.

In one of the discourses, I encountered the argument that “education aims at creating opportunities’. That sounds parochial and misses the point.

When students merely go through the system, riding on the wings of padded grades aiming to secure well-paying white-collar jobs without requisite competencies to sustain them, we create more problems than we seek to cure.

It is crucial to build a generation of all-rounders; critical, analytical thinkers who earn their grades from hard work than moderation; which simply seeks to create a false balance and satisfy numbers and curves.

Even after most private universities (some unaccredited), placed education on the pedestal of a lucrative commercial activity; charging an arm and a leg, am amazed some Kenyans still worry about how they will survive the Matiangi purge.

Public universities on the other hand resorted to parallel courses mainly to shore up their finances after government funding dwindled. Somehow, that ended up compromising a lot. Today, satellite colleges are being closed down, which might be a good thing. This will not only allow the revival of middle level colleges and polytechnics that offer training in courses like masonry, carpentry, plumbing and basic mechanics among others, it might help in bringing sobriety to the housing sector.

Demand for hostels drove rent sharply skyward in many towns. And if anyone cares to find out what some students in estates and hostels do, they will be shocked at the vices they encounter. Hostels form the bulk of the ‘sex for grades’ trade.

Some male students, having wasted all their monies on betting, have resorted to crime to make ends meet.

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