Kenyan kids know by now that when William Ruto opens his mouth before elections, free things and promises flow in plenty but as soon as Ruto gets to power all those promises are dead and he never even bothers to tell them what is going on. He has new goals at that time in power and would care less that the school children and their parents who believed him are eagerly waiting for their laptops.
Ten years after William Ruto promised the laptops to children there is not a single free laptop in any school. Can you imagine how those laptops could be useful now for the kids during these Covid problems when online learning is a big piece of any viable education system anywhere in the world?
“It is doable across Kenya. By implementing this programme, our children won’t have to go out looking for lunch or even go without food,” he noted with reference to the free food for school kids.
Ruto was with senator Johnson Sakaja who is the UDA candidate for the Nairobi governor’s job.
“When children tell you they want such a basic need as lunch instead of other leisure items, you understand that the situation is dire,” he noted.
“Urban poverty bites harder than rural poverty. In the city, you are on your own and that is why it is important we implement it here in Nairobi as soon as possible”
Kenyan schools are in bad shape today starting with the lack of proper school buildings for most kids to even sit down in an atmosphere that is conducive to learning.
Here are some of the primary schools in Mathare slums in Nairobi County where Ruto and Sakaja are promising free food to school kids. Looking at these structures and the conditions in which the kids try to learn one would think we have way bigger needs to make our education system better for young Kenyans.
In some of these schools in a study carried out by the Voice of America (VOA) media research team there are more than 100 school kids in one classroom being taught at a time by one teacher. That is not feasible and both the teacher and the school kids know that so it is just a matter of passing time.
The guts and effort of these kids to be in school under all these conditions and just keep moving and striving to be the best is an inspiration to all Kenyan young folk. Nothing can stop that.
So in Kenya today we have two types of private schools because our public school system is dysfunctional. We have the super expensive private schools where rich people like our politicians take their kids. Those are first-class academies all over the country.
You will never find a single child of the politicians and the rich in our delipidated public schools. They are in those private academies for the rich.
The other private schools are the so-called informal private schools like the ones above which are in Mathare. These schools came into existence because there are so many kids, particularly in the densely populated urban areas where there is no public school space and so some private schools cropped up to absorb them. These are terrible learning places as we can see but what is the solution?
And we are not talking about some of the rural schools where everybody from the kids, their parents, and the teachers have been abandoned by our government. It is criminal quite frankly.
Give the kids in those hovels called schools some food? You can’t even get there with your food. Are you going to throw food to them from a distance like the Kiambu Women’s rep candidate was doing with cakes to the public by just throwing it into the mud and let them pick it.
The problem we have here are politicians looking for relevance and making wild promises which they have no intention of keeping. Kenyans know that.
Let’s hope Raila Odinga and the Azimio team will present Kenyans with sensible and viable plans to revamp our education system to meet the needs of our children.
We need concrete plans on how CDF money will be managed to help build schools in every constituency and put in place the school facilities needed to provide school kids with a proper learning environment. That is a big part of what CDF is for. It was not supposed to be pocket money for MPs and they want to add more to that.
Parents and teachers know that the children need facilities like proper desks, sitting spaces, libraries, internet access facilities, electricity, water, and other basic needs that can create a place where kids are healthy and able to do their schoolwork and succeed.
The availability of teachers has become an issue in Kenya today. Many teachers are working on temporary employment terms and today in some schools the parents have to pay teachers because they do not have enough teachers paid by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC). Our education system today has to be addressed urgently or we are in trouble.
Adongo Ogony is a Human Rights Activist and a Writer who lives in Toronto, Canada