NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 30 – I don’t understand why you cannot get all As after all I’ve sacrificed for your education and yet I used to walk to school barefoot, the story usually goes.
And while it may be true, President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday took issue with the undue pressure parents placed on their children to excel academically in school, at all costs, making it appear as though the national examinations were the end-all.
It was this pressure, he submitted, that had led students to set fire to school property out of frustration.
“Exam pressure brought upon by parents, ‘you must have an A, if you don’t have an A don’t come home.’ Pressures that result in people going to excesses,” he said on Friday at the graduation ceremony of youth empowerment programmes Tujiajiri and Generation Kenya.
“Let us encourage them that irregardless (sic) of what grade you get, the important thing is that you did your best. Because it is not grades that make people. It is the character.”
Former President Mwai Kibaki expressed similar sentiments when he presided over the 57th Founders’ Day of Starehe Boys Centre on Saturday (of which he’s patron).
“Unacceptable,” he said of the high number of arson cases in schools and said parents needed to take responsibility for how their children turned out.
He said they needed to work hand in hand with school administrators to ensure the disciplined upbringing of their fawn and not leave it entirely up to them.
Even so, he said it was clear that not all parents had failed in that duty given there were still schools that remained untouched by the destruction.
Deputy President William Ruto on the other hand, speaking during the Embu County Academic Excellence Day, said it was time parent’s stopped looking at universities as the only guarantee of their children’s future success.
He said their children could attain the same success going through technical training colleges which the Jubilee Administration is keen on promoting given the shortage of professionally trained technicians in the country at a critical time in the take off of its economy.
“We need a paradigm shift. Countries that have developed, whether we are talking about Australia, Germany, Korea, they have more people trained in technical colleges than in universities. It is not right for us as leaders, parents to say those who go to TTIs are those who failed to secure university slots. We want the best students to go to TTIs so that they can build this country.”
Wherever the blame may lie, President Kenyatta did make it clear that those behind the over a hundred arson attacks on schools witnessed in recent months, would be held to account. “It is shameful… dawa ya moto ni moto (we shall fight fire with fire).”
He said the motivation for the fires is panic among students whose avenues for cheating had been clamped down on by government.