By Silas N
When I was five or six, my mum interrupted my playing, washed me up and at around midday took me to a nursery school called Mashimoni or something, deep in the bowels of Kibera.
She didn’t consult me or anything. I don’t remember going to Mashimoni for long. But I remember my mother beating up to go to school, I remember the blue lunch box and little else.
Circumstances sent me to the village and come the following year a reported to a nearby primary school to start my class 1. I remember the first day.
We sat our tiny asses on orange(what is the colour of bricks). We walked to school barefoot, attracting jiggers to feast on our tiny toes and boy did those monsters chew us…
By and large I went to public day schools. This was the pre-CDF areas and all schools had earthen floors. Wearing shoes was frowned upon. Because poverty, and pettiness real. If you wore shoes, “ulikuwa na maringo”.
Growing up, we doubled up as sources of labour for our parents. Fetched water, cooked, farmed, tended to the livestock. You name it.
Stuff was affordable. At lunch time, we plucked sukuma.wikinfrom the garden and if your family was lucky, you would have sour milk and avocado. Having eaten you went back to school to deal with teachers who behaved like Hitler. And that afternoon nap was irresistible. Especially if the teacher was the boring type.
Some of these girls who stand outside Pizza-In on Tuesdays ordering peri-peri.. would carry a 25 litre jerrican on their head, balancing it properly and still we’re able to carry 10 litres ones with their hands. Some of these young men wasting money on Jack Daniels were actually good at ploughing shamba with oxen. Ohh boy. Wacha wajibambe.
Anyway…Back then we used to pay like Sh 300 as school fees annually. Occasionally, we would pay something little for holiday tuition or morning preps, mostly Sh 20.
And that was it.
The reason for this rant is that tots is now three and apparently she is supposed to join a school. There is a hardly a functional public school where I live and I am foraging for a cheap school and here is where it gets interesting.
The cheapest, nearest school is about Sh 49,000 a term and about Sh 145,000.
Thanks for comparison sake my entire high school fees was about Sh 120,000. My entire university school fees, was also about Sh 130,000.
So tot’s school fees for two years was could we’ll have been my fees for 8 years when you adjust for inflation.
See, this is why public institutions matter. Most middle class parents struggle to pay school fees, because with high rents, sick parents, and high cost of living, paying that amount is sickening.
When middle class parents lose their jobs, they resort to negative coping mechanisms, where children have to be taken to ‘bad’ schools and this affects them drastically.
Most of the things these private kindergartens charge for is well-packaged nonsense. Is swimming such a vital lesson to pay through the nose.
I am like 52 years now, other than the childhood skin-dipping, in Rivers, I have rarely swam anywhere. I have only been to the coast twice and I hate Kisumu. And I am still fine.
I am not saying that she should not know how to swim, but I think some of these luxuries are unnecessary.
My wish would have been a well-maintained public school, where as a parent I fork out something reasonable. Because paying these crazy tuition fees is unrealistic and a natural family planning method.