By Silas Nyanchwani
There is a certain elite disconnection in our country that can be appalling. The rich in power who ironically grew up poor, often make certain decisions that can make you question your sanity.
The crisis in private schools has conveniently been avoided, shoved aside like it is no big deal. Private school have been left to their own devices and teachers there are being advised to register for unemployed benefits. Like the money even exists in the real sense.
I haven’t seen a cogent argument from KNUT, or the government or even private owners of schools. Is their even a union or an organisation that represents private school teachers?
We find ourselves in a unique place that needs creative intervention.
Generally, I am opposed to private schools. As someone who went to public schools from nursery to university, I have always believed that our education system can be largely public and we will turn out fine.
By the time Moi left power, public schools were common, even for the middle class. Recently an educationist told me how big guys at the ministry of education started the private school frenzy, going against the very things they were employed to protect. And many did divert resources to start some of these famous schools.
This, coupled, with a growing population, poor planning that saw nearly all public land grabbed especially in Nairobi, and a Ministry of Education that rules on whims, made private schools become an alternative for those who can afford or with no access public schools.
Where I have lived for instance, the only public school donated by KQ was grabbed and for the longest time, kids from poor backgrounds had no place to go, but the private schools in slums, that understaffed, inadequate, dirty etc. For 12 years a private developer sat on the school and made it his until it was repossessed by the government back early this year.
You can hate private schools, but they have offered an alternative to people on places like Nairobi where public schools are not enough, they employ the surplus teachers that TSC cannot employ or yet to employ. Above all, our kids get to get an education, incomplete as it is since many schools have no amenities such as fields to play.
There has never been a coherent plan from the ministry to address the biggest problem in the Education sector from Elementary to Higher Education. Often, we wish the problems away. And a few cosmetic changes to get us by.
But when tragedy like Covid-19 strikes, it exposes us badly. But any country worth its salt must have its health, security, education and agriculture in order.
In the future, we have to rethink and know that while privatisation is good, not everything can be privatised.
Secondly, for schools, it is necessary for the government to enter into an agreement with private schools and help them out, even with teacher’s salaries, even if it is a loan facility.
It is easy to say that is not practical and owners of the schools are being greedy, when they refuse to pay, but that is not exact picture. They don’t exist in a vacuum and running a school or a hospital is not like running a shop.
In the future, I hope we can do better.