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New exam rules in Kenya can be real game changer

By The Standard | February 13th 2017
Education CS Fred Matiang'i. PHOTO: FILE

If nothing else, reforms in the Education sector are Jubilee’s greatest hallmark. Forget about the promise of laptops for primary school pupils, which has been termed ill-thought-out and populist, or the Sh5.8 billion insurance scheme for the nearly 300,000 teachers. Reforms in the school curriculum and the administration of exams have earned Jubilee prime political capital than ‘midwifing’ devolution. It is a smart goal; simple, measurable and achievable. The rules that were revealed last week will mark a seismic shift for the nearly 10 million young Kenyans in primary and secondary school.

The rules should ultimately reduce the premium attached to passing exams. It is about relooking at our value system and questioning the values inculcated in learners. Are we steeped in too much competition at the expense of developing other critical faculties? Is competition a means to an end? No doubt, the world gets competitive each minute and only the fittest survive the cutthroat competition.

But competition for the sake of it negates that urge to be competitive and best suited for modern-day challenges. Our education system has become a jungle where no rules apply. Students are drilled more in rote learning and passing exams than in the practical application of knowledge and skills in life and at the workplace.

Something has to be done to correct this trend. Getting it right with our education offers great dividends. A system that promotes innovation, hard work, fair play and honesty produces decent, rational, patriotic citizens. Kenya needs, but lacks, such people. Look at our national leadership. It is fair to paraphrase the Bible; that it is easy for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than to find a decent national leader. The best place to start is at the classroom.

The new rules therefore should go a long way in inculcating good values to the next generation of leaders. And encourage them that after all, competition can be healthy; that losing is not the end of the world; that it is just but part of life.

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