Friday, March 02, 2007

Why Kenya’s High School Education System Is Biased

Why is it that the same 10 or so ‘Ivy League’ schools always top the KCSE examinations list? Are Kenya’s youth condemned to mediocrity and the lack of a quality tertiary education should they not get a place in these ‘Ivy League’ high schools? This blog has beef with Kenya’s high school education system. Here’s why: This blog strongly believes that all schools classified as ‘Government’ should offer their students the same quality of education – unless of course, the government feels that some of its citizens deserve better treatment than others.
Even in countries where ‘Ivy League’ schools truly exist, they are usually private institutions, and not government owned. Reason being that private school owners can fork out tones of cash to recruit the very best teachers and buy top notch learning facilities. For the majority of the denizens who can’t afford to attend these high cost Ivy League schools, they are left with no alternative but to join government funded schools. Why then, should the government further discriminate on the children of its tax payers by creating some schools that are equipped with better learning facilities than others? Shouldn’t all government schools have the same learning facilities? Shouldn’t every teenie in Kenya have an equal opportunity to get to a university or college education? The reason school fees and other related costs at the so called National Schools are so high is because there is no equitable distribution of educational facilities. It simply does not make economic sense for a student to travel all the way from Mombasa to Thika to study in an ivy league National School. If there was no discrimination in the equitable distribution of high school facilities, there would be no need for this student to endure the torture of traveling 500 kilometres to get a quality education – she would get that education in Mombasa.
As we once again congratulate Starehe Boys Centre for topping the KCSE exams, we should ask ourselves one question; if all the high schools had, more or less, similar educational facilities, and the criteria for recruiting high school students was based on geographical proximity rather than intellectual hierarchy, would the same schools keep topping the national high school examinations? The answer is most probably, no. At the end of the 4 years, shouldn’t your entry into a tertiary level institution be dictated by your intellectual input and not the school you attend? What say you?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Give the Oscar to Joseph Olita

Credit should be given where it is due – Forest Whitaker largely deserved to win the Oscar last night. Justice should be served where it is wanting – Joseph Olita deserved to win the Oscar 16 years ago for his portrayal of former Ugandan despot Idi Amin Dada in the classic epic The Rise and Fall of Idi Amin. To date, the movie remains the most watched movie in Kenyan history, surpassing even The Passion of the Christ.
A huge majority of subscribers to this blog will most probably not have watched the 16 year-old epic, since they must have been like 2 or 3 years old when the classic was released, but this does not mean they should hear about it. Produced by the late Sharad Patel (who was also a Kenyan citizen), The Rise and Fall of Idi Amin was a movie about the true story of the Ugandan military dictator. Legend has it that Joseph Olita played Idi Amin so well that Idi Amin himself swore (he had then been disposed and was in exile in Saudi Arabia) that if they ever crossed paths, he would kill him with his bare hands. Of course Idi Amin is long since dead and Joseph Olita’s international acting career failed to take him to Hollywood.
So good was Olita at playing Amin that in preparation for his great performance, Whitaker surely must have benefited from a study of The Rise and Fall of Idi Amin. In fact, we in Africa aren’t really surprised that the professional critics have not noted, reminded, or even compared Olita's previous very stunning portrayal of Amin. Most objective critics would admit that if you compared Olita’s and Whitaker’s portrayal of Amin, the former stands heads and shoulders above.
But such is the tragic case of Africa; ignored by the west and the world in general, despite its great contribution to the world of entertainment. And when the world and Hollywood finally directs some attention towards this glorious continent, the characters playing leading roles in stories about the continent, are not African!