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There is much more to life than just getting good academic grades

By Robert Wesonga | January 18th 2019

Vanity of vanities; that’s what some say this business is. And it is not the business of selling and buying; the business of negotiating and haggling over prices and commodities or services. It is the business of schooling. Some people say – and it is a good number – that one of the most wasteful endeavours is schooling.

For where it is expected to guarantee a better life, they say, it often doesn’t afford one a better existence than the next man who probably has not done enough schooling. Such people, usually the proponents of ‘hustling’, will tell you that it is better to hustle in life than to rely on education. Whatever that means!

However, all things considered, going to school remains the most assured way of shaping a more productive human being than any other thing in the civilized world. This is the reason it is better to believe that what has been the most expensive month for this country as parents and government have struggled to get their children into schools shall not be in vain.

One of the most intriguing images on the social media surrounding schooling and performance must be that of a cow relaxing on a bed. Below the image is an even more intriguing inscription. It is to the effect that every time a parent walks into a failed child’s bedroom and sees the daughter or son on the bed, the sight of the child on bed conjures the image of a cow.

There and then, the parent discovers that they had sold their cows to take another cow to school. I differ. For, regardless of which grade your daughter or son you have struggled to get to Form One gets, they can never compare to somebody who has never seen the four walls of a secondary school classroom. Which is why suffer as parents, guardians and government may; strain as they must, it is still worthwhile to take our children to school. 

First time

On February 8, 1995, I walked from my home village to the village where Lugulu AC Secondary School is.

I was fearful and hopeful; fearful because my memory kept replaying stories of bullying; hopeful because for the first time I was going to boarding school with a modest collection of property that I now called my own; a bed, towel, leather shoes.

I don't want to say that it was the first time I put on leather shoes because of the fear of this being termed an exaggeration.

It was there I discovered there were kids who had bigger problems than mine. Nevertheless, these boys and girls maintained a cheer and demeanour that made you mistake them for kids who had grown up within socio-economic privilege. I went on to make friends that I still hold dear today.

The stay went on to become one of the most epic moments in my academic life. Several years later, the boys and girls who seemed like they would not amount to much in their lives have gone on to enjoy various successes regardless of the grades they scored.

A school is a set up with programmes that are geared towards shaping children into productive human being for their immediate and larger societies. Parents therefore should look beyond the grades, for there is more to education than mere grades.

The opportunity

Even though good grades have been overrated as the most reliable indicator of successful education, there other activities within the school programme that contribute to a more complete student.

Stories of those who have gone on to live off the talents that were nurtured while in school abound in this country and beyond. The subject today is to encourage parents, sponsors, guardians and government on what they have done once more this year. Expenditure on education is never in vain. Again, for the avoidance of doubt, spending on education is never a waste if the person being spent on uses the opportunity.

According to 2017 estimates by the World Bank, besides the expenditure by private citizens on education, the Government of Kenya spends about 6.7 per cent of the GDP on education.

“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” This statement has been attributed to American writer Robert Orben. Whereas it may have grown to the point of being considered a cliché, it is a statement that should inspire those who strive to educate the children of this country.

For it is in education that we have the best chance of creating productive citizens not just for this country, but also for the world.

Next time you look at your son or daughter who finished Form Four in 2018, it will help to see beyond the façade of grades. For there is more to a person’s academic achievements beyond grades written on paper.

Dr Wesonga is a lecturer in Literature at the University of Kabianga, [email protected]

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