Do away with computerised Form One selection; it is not good enough

Patrick Njoroge (R), Deputy Director Ministry of ICT shows Education Cabinet Secretary Prof. George Magoha how Form One selection will be done online during the release of 2021 form one selection and placement results. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

As we celebrate the admission of the so called high-fliers in the select few Tier One national schools, I dare ask the question: Must we continue offering our education this way?

Over the years, we have noticed that the equity and affirmative actions we put into the computerised system of Form One selection are not working. Why do we keep doing the same thing?

To put this into perspective; I paraphrase Dorothy Sayers in her 1947 vacation course seminal paper titled, “Lost tools of learning”. In the paper, she argued that the trajectory education was taking was taking away teachers from their core mandate.

We take teachers and stakeholders through Form One selection before Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) results are released knowing that 40 per cent of the admissions would be problematic owing to computer errors, poor data management and illogical permutations.

How on earth do we keep getting children admitted in day schools 500km from their homes? How do we get boys admitted to girls’ schools? Why can’t we look at the system, its attendant parameters and change it?

We cannot promise the public that the leadership of the education sector is committed to moving away from being examination-centered when three things have not changed. One is the placement of children from one level to the next by way of transition.

If their raw and aggregate marks are used, we will not be delivering on the promise if we fail to look at context issues that shape performance in an examination setting.

Two, how we appraise, motivate, support and remunerate teachers. Our pre-occupation with mean scores, overall school performance by way of national examinations is the bane of low drive in teacher performance.

We cannot expect Tier One national schools with a nearly universal performance to be graded against schools that are forced to admit anyone provided they sat KCPE even in schools with poor infrastructure, inadequate teachers, insecurity, among other factors.

The third critical factor lies in the welfare of the learners. The Ministry of Education has failed to develop a health and wellbeing policy for children in boarding schools.

We have schools with over 2,500 learners with one nurse or a nurse assistant with a dilapidated sanatorium since every nook and cranny is being used as boarding space.

Sayers avers in her elucidation that teachers should worry about the welfare of children, take care of their immediate needs that keep them happy and facilitate learning and not load them with curriculum coverage with the sole aim of ensuring they pass an examination.

The revelation that we are on the verge of increasing the number of subjects and hence assessment areas for the pioneer Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) Junior Secondary tells us that our reform agenda is a tiger after its own tail.

Must we continue this way?

The good old professor, what say you? Are you happy with what is obtaining in the sector or you are marking-time since your exit is nigh?