BY RAILA ODINGA
I wish to take this early opportunity to congratulate the teachers, parents, leaders and pupils of Kirinyaga County for the hard work and collaboration that saw theirs emerge tops in the first ever such ranking under the new constitution.
It is a distinction many would have loved to own and which Kirinyaga will stay with forever and cherish for many years to come.
The ranking of results by counties showcase what lies ahead in terms of positive competition when the county governments finally take off, under the leadership of governors elected by, and answerable to the voters.
The close contest between Kirinyaga and Nandi, Makueni, Uasin Gishu and Busia, among others is worth noting.
I congratulate these counties for this sterling show which is just but an indication of the interesting years ahead for Kenya where positive competition, not only in education, but in many other areas, especially job creation and economic performance, will be the norm under the county government.
I congratulate all the young boys and girls who sat for KCPE early this year for greatly improved results.
The results have shown we have got quite close to attaining gender parity in enrolment and performance. It is an achievement we must sustain and build on.
The results have shown that private schools still have advantage over public schools in performance.
But the brilliant show by Kathigiri B Primary and Nyabondo Primary schools in Meru and Kisumu respectively show that our public schools can compete. I salute the brave head teachers of these two public schools for this inspiring performance.
Private schools do well because the owners invest heavily in staffing, remuneration and equipment. We should always congratulate these schools for helping the country move closer to attaining education goals.
Private schools are not villains, but partners in efforts to provide quality education.
I have noted with a lot of concern that our counties from the Coast; Lamu, Taita-Taveta, Kwale and Tana River have emerged at the bottom of the pack.
This has not come as a surprise though. It is a direct result of many years of neglect that these regions have been subjected to.
It is a manifestation of the disparity between regions that we hope to cure with the decentralisation of power and resources to the grassroots through county governments.
It is my hope that this performance will provide the impetus for the leaders, teachers and parents in the regions, working together with the government, to take a critical look into what needs to be done to remedy the situation. It must not be a reason for blame games and condemnations.
It should be a reason for us all of us to push harder for a faithful implementation of the Constitution and Devolution clauses through which packages like the Equalisation Fund will see their counties pick up and catch up with the rest.
In the New Year, the government will pay very close attention to the tribulations of these struggling counties with a view to helping them pull up gradually.
The Rt. Hon. Raila A. Odinga, EGH, MP
Thursday, December 29, 2011