Why school mid-terms are the new economic stimulus

Parents and students queuing outside a school uniform shop along Muindi Mbingu Street, Nairobi. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The mid-term break or half-term as it is popularly called gives students some rest from the Covid-19 induced academic marathon. But my encounter with students changed my thinking about this break.

It’s also an economic stimulus. Students wearing uniforms of all colours and shades "invade” supermarkets on their way home.

Uniforms have changed since our days when they were plain and “hard.” Does khaki still exist?

Students are the only Kenyans smiling amidst rising fuel prices. After all, at this age, one is shielded from the economic realities.

Few of them understand economic terms like inflation or marginal propensity to consume beyond the textbook definitions.

In the supermarket, the students conglomerate around pastries, juices, bread, sodas; anything that needs no preparation. I saw none buying fruits or a newspaper. We could argue they are children.

Half-term wakes up the sleepy hamlets and villages. Even the city feels it. Noted yellow buses dropping off kids at Uhuru Park?

The economy is either driven by consumption or investment. During the few half-term days, consumption goes up and traders feel the effect. Beyond the supermarket, transporters are happy too.

Book depot at a street in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County. [File, Standard]

For a weekend or a week before the pandemic, students meet their parents or siblings. The pent up energy drives the consumption of food and other items.

Businessmen must have felt the effect of the nine-month Covid-19 induced school closure.

Students or read children are great consumers both in and out of school. There are about 15 million students in Kenya, about a quarter of the population.

Too focused on exams, we often forget schools and their students are key economic players through consumption and keeping off unemployment.

We often forget that while education prepares the next generation for life, we live in the present with all its needs and wants.

Every parent feels a dent in the pocket as schools open or close. Other sectors of the economy smile. We hope that through school, we prepare students to be better consumers and investors.

That we are giving them marketable skills either for employment or entrepreneurship.

As I watched those young girls and boys streaming in and out of the supermarket, I privately wondered what type of consumers or entrepreneurs they make by 2030AD when our great vision should have been realised.

And what role CBC will play in helping these students realise their dreams.