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To those who failed KCSE, Bill Gates was once labeled as a poor student

Readers Lounge - By Corina Oyier
Photo: Courtesy

Results are finally out and you may be happy or sad depending on how you performed on the exam. Congratulations to those who passed and for those who ‘failed’ congratulations to you too! This is why…

I did my form four exam a while back and I understand the pressure to get that perfect grade. When the Minister for Education has announced the results and you are waiting for a t.v crew to come ask you ‘How did you manage to get an A?’ while texting your former school mates to know what they got. I actually wrote a speech. I practiced it the whole of December so that I’d know it off head and look natural talking about how I slew the giant that is KCSE when the time came.

That never happened. I was heartbroken when I saw my results. I felt like I could have done better. I let my parents down. I let myself down. But now that I look at it, that result was not the end of life. It was the beginning of me discovering other talents and abilities.

So I ask myself, why does society place such great importance on grades? Why is our intelligence based on classroom performance? I understand that good grades get you accepted into good schools and good schools get you good jobs but does that equate a good life?

And how much can a 2-hour test examine anyway? Can five questions evaluate what I have learned in four years? I don’t think so. Where is the exam testing my physical fitness that brings overall good health? How about a test for my spiritual journey and not one for scriptures crammed. And a personality test that determines how I’ll interact with my future co-workers? These things factor into a holistic being that is valuable in society, right?

Unfortunately, not everyone sees it this way.

There are people who still act as if going to school, getting a degree and getting a job is the only path to follow. But it is not the path for everyone. This is not to say education is not important, it is one of the most valuable things a person can earn. What I mean is, we all learn at different paces or may be interested in different things outside the classroom and just because one is not booksmart, they should not be labeled as slow, unintelligent or lazy.

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Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Ben Carlson are just a few listed names of successful people who were once labeled as poor students. They may have done poorly, but they persisted. Good grades are not an indicator of success. The definition of success in itself, is elusive. It differs from one individual to the next. So what are we even trying to measure? If we try to put a scale on it, what metric should we use?

So if you failed, congratulations to you. Be proud of your work if you did your best, learn from this if you didn’t. Borrow from the greats, persist. Here’s your chance to prove that success comes in all forms, not just what they mark on an answer sheet. Don’t base your happiness on numbers on a transcript. Your unique abilities are what will make this world that much better to live in. To the students who passed, this is not to bash you or belittle your hard work and great sacrifice. It is to inspire an education system which is not about winning or losing, but only about learning.

“To the kids who dread going to school, but still love to learn. To the kids who are too shy to participate in class, but have ideas worth sharing. To the kids who would rather explore nature for themselves than read about it in a text book. To the students who struggle in the classroom, but excel in athletics. To the aspiring musician who is called foolish for following his dreams instead of pursuing a “real” career. I want to express my respect and admiration for you. I know that you are capable of leading a happy and fulfilling life doing what you love, even if it doesn’t measure up to society’s standards. In the grand scheme of things, your grades are only a small factor in your life, and do not define you as a person.” Chloe McGinely

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