This is a call to Kenyans of conscience to step back and ponder the lies about education that circulate in the media, the school system and the government. Foreign sharks have camped in Kenya to distort our education. With catchphrases such as “quality” and “world standards”, these sharks try to destroy the hopes, dreams and creativity of young Africans not only in Kenya but in the entire region and to make a profit in the process. With the help of local professors, bureaucrats and journalists, they spread the hatred of education among the population. At the same time, ironically, they arouse a school thirst that leads parents to take desperate measures to get their children to school, to the point of accepting violence and abuse in school that lead children to suicide .
This madness must end.
We must accept that education is a life’s work through which people constantly adapt to their social and natural environment. Education is more than just going to school and getting the right papers. Education takes place wherever people process what they perceive, decide about it and act in solidarity. That is why education, culture and access to information are inextricably linked.
But since colonial times, both the colonial and “independent” versions of the Kenyan government have worked hard to separate education from culture and access to information. They did this by destroying all other ways Kenyans can create knowledge. We don’t have enough public libraries and our museums are underfunded. Arts festivals, where people come together and learn from unique cultural expressions, have been underfunded, and according to some reports, donors have been specifically told not to fund creativity and culture. Meanwhile, artists are insulted, exploited and sometimes silenced in the name of faith through censorship, public ridicule and moralistic condemnation.
All of these measures are designed to isolate the school as the sole source of learning and creativity, and that is what makes school entry so breakneck and abusive.
But entering school doesn’t mean the end of the abuse. Once in schools, Kenyans find that there is no arts education where children can explore ideas and express themselves. At school they find teachers who are themselves exposed to constant abuse and interference from the Ministry of Education and the Teachers Service Commission. Amid a barrage of threats and relocations, teachers are forced to undertake competency-based training, which is incoherent and has been rejected in other countries. Many of the teachers eventually take up the rationality of abuse and distribute it to poor children whose crime is wanting to learn. This desperation for education has also been turned into a weapon by the corporate world, offering expensive private education and blackmailing parents to fill the pockets of book publishers.
Education is more than just going to school and getting the right papers. Education takes place wherever people process what they perceive, decide about it and act in solidarity.
At the end of primary and secondary school, only 3 percent of total school students can continue their education. This situation only exacerbates inequality in Kenya, where only 2 percent of the population have a university degree and only 8,300 people have as much as the rest of Kenya.
But if you listen to the government and the corporate sector, you would think that 98 percent of Kenyans have attended university. The corporate sector reduces education to vocational training and condemns the school system as inadequate to meet corporate needs. However, according to statements by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) and the government, there is no intention of employing Kenyans who are completing an apprenticeship. The government is hiring doctors from Cuba and engineers from China, then promises the UK to export our medical staff. KEPSA says on record that we need to train workers in vocational training so that they can work in other African countries.
It is clear that the Kenyan government and corporate sector do not want Kenyans to go to school and become active citizens in their homeland. Rather, these institutions treat schooling as a conveyor belt to produce Kenyans as labor for export abroad and to cushion the theft of public funds through remittances.
The media and the church are also participating in the war on education by brainwashing Kenyans to accept this dire state of affairs. The media constantly bombard Kenyans with lies about the makeup of university students and with propaganda against “useless degrees”. The church has given up prophecy and baptizes any faulty education policy in exchange for upholding its colonial dreams of keeping religion in the curriculum in order to pacify Kenyans in the name of “morality.”
The government now intends to further restrict education through the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC), which aims to limit education through pathways that prevent children from pursuing subjects of their interests and by setting quotas for those who do be able to complete training beyond secondary school. At the tertiary level, the government is developing an algorithm that will withdraw funding from the humanities and social sciences. Instead, the funds are to flow into the medical and engineering sciences that meet Kenya’s development needs.
But remember that foreigners do the work of doctors and engineers anyway, so “development” here does not mean that Kenyan professionals will work in their home country. They will work abroad where they cannot be active citizens and ask questions about our health care and infrastructure.
The proposed defusion of the arts, humanities and social sciences is intended to achieve one goal: thinking and creativity reserved for the 3 percent of Kenyans who can afford it. This discrimination in funding for higher education is about denying the majority and the poor spaces where they can be creative and develop ideas. It is also designed to prevent humble Kenyans from questioning policies and priorities adopted under dubious concepts such as “development needs”, which are primarily explored in the humanities and social sciences.
It is clear that the Kenyan government and corporate sector do not want Kenyans to go to school and become active citizens in their homeland.
Obviously there is a war on education and against Kenyans who are creative and active citizens in their own country. In order for the 8,300 Kenyans to maintain their monopoly on resources, they have to distract the Kenyans with educational propaganda, limit the access of Kenyans to schooling and close alternative sources of education, information and knowledge. By restricting access to schooling and credentials, the 8,300 can take advantage of the work of Kenyans who did not go to school or who did not get far in school, arguing that these Kenyans have the “skills” necessary for better pay. miss.
We must also name those who make this exploitation possible. The greedy ambitions of the political class are rooted in people who have gone through the school system themselves. To adapt Michelle Obama’s famous words, these people went through the door of opportunity and tried to close it behind them, rather than giving more Kenyans the same opportunities that made them succeed. This tyranny is perpetuated by a section of school teachers, university professors, and bureaucrats in government who fear all students and citizens who know more than themselves rather than indulging in the breadth of Kenyan creativity and knowledge. Above all, the professors and bureaucrats allow themselves to be seduced into this short-sightedness with benchmarking trips abroad, and foreign policy in Kenya is implemented with spoons. They reap the legitimate aspirations of Kenya and wrap them up in misleading slogans. For example, they refer to limited opportunities as “promoting talent” and christen the government’s role in providing social services with “parental involvement”.
These bureaucrats and academics are helped by the media, which allow them to give the Kenyans obscure sound bits that say nothing about what is happening on site. They are also calling for empty calls for a return to a pre-colonial Africa that they will not even let us learn from because they have blocked history learning and are writing policies to define the arts and humanities. We need to challenge these people with great titles and positions because of their loyalty to the African people in Kenya. We call on them to repent of this betrayal of their own people in the name of “global standards”.
We Kenyans also need an expanded definition of education. We need art centers where Kenyans can meet and develop new ideas. We need libraries where Kenyans can get information. We need guilds and unions to help professionals and workers adopt the regulation, training and knowledge in their specializations. We need all work to be recognized regardless of certification so that people can be paid for their work, regardless of whether or not one has attended school.
We need recognition of our traditional skills in areas such as healing, midwife, livestock, handicrafts and construction. We need better social recognition of achievements outside of business and politics. It is a shame that our runners who make Kenyans proud, our scientists, thinkers, artists and activists who are gaining international fame are barely recognized in Kenya for being hardworking instead of stealing public money to go to the next election battle. Our ideas are being harvested by foreign companies while our government is bombarding us with useless bureaucracy and taxes that keep us out of control.
We need all work to be recognized regardless of certification so that people can be paid for their work, regardless of whether or not one has attended school.
Above all, we need an end to the obsession with foreign money as a source of “development”. We are tired of being seen only as export workers, we are tired of foreigners being treated more than the Kenyan people. We are fed up with tourism, which is based on the tropics of the colonial explorers and treats Africans as a threat to the environment. And the names of those colonial settlers who dominate our national consciousness must be removed from our landmarks.
Development, whatever that means, comes from the minds and muscles of the Kenyan people. And the key to becoming people who proudly contribute to society and humanity is education. Not education in the limited sense of jobs and certificates, but education in the broader sense of dignity, creativity, knowledge and solidarity.