It is possible to make all our schools, 'good schools'

Paka Hills Primary School pupils in Tiaty study under difficult conditions. The school has few classrooms, chairs and desks. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

It is apparent that some schools are more popular than others. This comes out most clearly during selection of secondary schools by the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) candidates and their parents.

Indeed, it has been reported that some schools attract as many as 500,000 applicants whereas others do not make to admit a single full class of 45 learners. This is as a result of jostling for the 'good schools'.

During the transition period from primary to secondary school, usually in the beginning of the year, many parents take time off their normal schedules to secure vacancies in what they consider good schools for their kids. This year was no exception.

Principals of such schools are normally inundated with requests for vacancies in their schools. But what constitutes a good school? Is it possible to make all schools to be good schools? This is a question that deserves proper interrogation.

Is a good school necessarily that which produces 'A' grades? Many parents seem to prefer such schools. Is it important to consider other factors such as exposure to co-curricular activities, instillation of values, provision of proper psycho-social development, school diet, talent development and general wellness of the learner?

The purpose of a school is to provide education. Scholars generally, and educationists in particular, have various definitions of education. There is, however, a concurrence that education is the purposeful activity of transmitting knowledge, fostering skills and inculcating attitudes. Simply, a school that offers the appropriate environment for learners to acquire necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes in life is a good school.

A good school, therefore, has various key indicators. First, adequacy of well-qualified and motivated teachers is critical. Teachers do not only give instructions in the classrooms but are also students' role models. They have strong influence in shaping students' attitude.

Secondly, availability of physical resources and facilities should be given the prominence it deserves. Giving students access to appropriate educational tools and facilities such as laboratories, libraries and computers can help deepen their knowledge and improve their logical and cognitive skills.

Thirdly, a great school offers a clean and well-organised environment that is conducive to learning. A comfortable and relaxing school setting can help enhance the teaching and learning experience.

Additionally, the school must offer students opportunities to nurture their talents in ventures such as athletics, ball games, music, drama, comedy and innovation.

The government and other education stakeholders should aspire to make all schools acquire the aforementioned key qualities. This will not only ease pressure on the few coveted secondary schools but will also go a long way towards creating similar standards of all schools.

-Mr Muia is the principal of Igandene Boys Secondary School in Meru County