There's more to life than passing national exams

As this year’s candidates write their national examinations, Kenyans must return to the drawing board on the life skills we are instilling in our future generations.

It is not just enough to bring up children in a highly competitive environment where so much emphasis is put on academic grades. Other attributes needed to bring up a patriotic, honest and hardworking population seem to have taken a back seat.

We must also insist on integrity and putting in an honest effort to succeed in life. We should expose our children to activities that bring out their individual talents, not just insist on passing national examinations. For far too long, we have over emphasised on academic credentials as the only path to a decent shot in life.

This has led to the perceptions that you can only become a doctor, pilot, nurse, accountant, lawyer, office administrator, salesperson or work in an office to make it in life. This is so much so that we look down upon plumbers, electricians, farmers, welders, machine operators, drivers, packers and other manual jobs. Kenya is gradually becoming deficient of manual labourers. That is why we must support vocational technical colleges. Therefore, the huge premium placed on passing national exams at the expense of learners expressing their God-given abilities should be discouraged.

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Indeed, as President Uhuru Kenyatta remarked the other day, “it does not make a difference what grade you get. There are those who will not go to university but that does not necessarily mean you are a failure, you are not. You have the opportunity to become the best farmer or the best musician. Just do your best and the rest will sort itself out.”

And indeed, besides academic prowess, other skills, ideas and innovation will be needed to spur the nation’s economic growth and prosperity. And as we embrace technology and other means of making life easier, techonologists will also be in high demand. Finally, life is not a narrow straitjacket and the national exams must not be treated as a matter of life and death. Best wishes to all the candidates!  

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