It is one thing for Kenya's richest families to promote land purchase, speculation and ownership. But when idea shapers and professionals do it, I get worried. instead of writing a blog post, I decided to curate a few of my more prominent facebook posts about my worries on Kenya's land ethics. Other posts can be found on this blog under the subject Land and environment.
We who care about education, and who are employed to care, must scrutinize the major, huge-impact and hurried decisions coming from the Education ministry, at a time when people are distracted by elections.
The latest of these decisions is the announcement by the Education CS that EMIS (Education Management Information System) would be unveiled in the Kenyan education sector at the end of this month.
There are a number of red flags in this announcement. First is that the two pillars of the EMIS mentioned by the CS are personal identification numbers for students, and closer monitoring of resources. The marriage of the two came from both the president and the CS in December last year, during the presentation of the problematic KCSE results to the president.
The last time I blogged in horror about the president’s choice of words, it was after he trivialized the rape of a toddler. I hoped that I would never again hear the head of state use this kind of talk that assaults our dignity. But it appears that I will continually be proved wrong.
This time, the president was celebrating the completion (I think) of a railway that has raised the country’s debt and sacrificed our environment. But as if we the people have not lost enough, the president promised the death penalty to anyone who causes damage to the railway. The reasoning? That damaging the railway is economic sabotage and life threatening, and so the person who pulls a metal rod, from the snake Syokimau prophesied about, has committed murder.
Such language is unacceptable.
#EducationReformsKE: A reform led by a British tour guide and a curriculum provided by a Japanese NGO
It is now clear that the mainstream media is not going to sustain a conversation about the new curriculum whose pilot starts tomorrow. Compared to the party primaries dominating the news, thinking about education is dull. With elections on the other hand, the tension is palpable. Votes need to be counted within a day or so, then winners dance, and losers cry foul. All within a day’s work.
But with education, you’re asking people to think about their children’s lives for the first 25 years, and to consider the impact of those 25 years on the rest of their children’s lives and on the life of the nation. Thinking about education is clearly not as entertaining as party primaries.
Education therefore doesn’t stand a chance of making the headlines, although it might happen if CS Matiang’i showed up in the public with another hard talking by-line. However, I suspect he’s avoiding the limelight to keep education out of the public eye. And his strategy is working.
And yet, the drama of the so called new curriculum is actually quite interesting. It would even be funny, if the implications were not so serious.
"My role, as the President's program officer, is to implement the president's program, and that is what I'm doing. They should then be comparing president to president, because I'm implementing the president's program." Education CS Fred Matiangi
If there is anything so bizarre to an educator like myself, it's the secrecy and the hurry to change Kenya's education system so fundamentally.
For the longest time, we the public, including we who train teachers, relied on press reports to figure out what the new education system is about. Our queries on social media to the Education CS and KICD gave us PR statements about stakeholders being involved, but we still could get no access to the documents themselves. Eventually, a teacher exasperated with our complaints challenged us to google the document and get a copy. What I found was the Basic Education Curriculum Framework, whose file name indicates final, but looks like the badly done term papers that I sometimes grade.
Your land must not be sold on a permanent basis, because you do not own it; it belongs to God and you are like foreigners who are allowed to make use of it. (Leviticus 25: 23)
Since the doctors’ strike took a break, nothing has brought my heart such sorrow as the violence in Laikipia. My interest was sparked by a bus ride with a student who showed me pictures of tortured children and of animals shot dead, and who narrated, sometimes in tears, the agony of Kenyans suffering there. He is the one who challenged me to seek John Mbaria and Mordechai Ogada’s book The Big Conservation Lie, which has in turn led me to articles and lectures on conservation and pastoralism (which I shall list at the end of this post).
Once upon a time, not too long ago, a village called Kijiji agreed to have a bus financed by their contributions to transport people to work. The villagers agreed that a certain politician called Mwanasiasa would collect their contributions, and use the money to maintain the vehicle and pay Daktari, the local driver.
The plan started well, but soon the services started dwindling. The villagers would get to work late. Sometimes there were accidents. Yet they were still paying their contributions.
One day, Daktari eventually told the villagers: "this vehicle is in bad shape. I've already had accidents with it, and some of you have been badly injured. If we continue to drive it like this, it could kill us. The money you villagers contribute is enough for us to purchase more vehicles, pay more drivers and offer them better terms of service. But sometimes I've had to fix the vehicle with my money because I’m not getting everything I need. Also, Kijiji has grown bigger, so we need more drivers."
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