Our education system has been much vilified so much so in the last four years two MPs have called for the scrapping of KCPE. Jeremiah Kioni in 2010 and Mohammed Shidiye last week.
In truth, the reasons given for
doing away with the 8-4-4 system altogether are credible. It has been
argued that it is a system that crushes talent, it doesn't inspire
critical thinking because it's all about
competing for the best grades for intake into considered institutions
and it diminishes the hope of living beyond academic success for its
But scrapping KCPE alone won't count for much
if the learning theories and pedagogy that inform our curriculum are
not subjected to continuous assessment and progressive review.
But for much, of the criticism that 8-4-4 has received, it has inspired
a change in thinking, a new way of evaluating oneself. It has caused a
revolt. To revolt is to refuse the control or influence of someone or
something over you. So the revolt in this context is, a revolt against
the dictates of the system which glorify academic credentials as a
guarantee to success in life: Pass exams, get acceptable grades and you
are in for a wonderful life. This revolt is warranted because most of
the time the grades are 'acceptable' to our parents, teachers and
institutions but the education process has not benefited us, as the
learners. The revolt has been engined mainly by perceived 'failure' and
falling below the system's and society's expectations of academic
The revolt has been occasioned by 'failures' who have
proven that success in life is not pegged on passing national exams.
This revolt has created alternative careers and livelihoods that are not
parallel to stellar academic credentials. Earlier this week, i was
telling some friends that in Nairobi you are either a blogger, a
fashionista, a member of a band or a solo musician. You see, it might
have a statement made in jest but it helps one comprehend that a growing
number of youth are in 'alternative' or talent-based careers that are a
product of the revolt. They have revolted against their parents' and
teachers' desired expectations of a 'decent' white collar job in a
blue-chip company. And this has forced them to risk more in giving their
alternative careers a push.
The 8-4-4 has also been maligned
for shepherding students towards certain favourable and appealing
careers. Ask a pupil 5 years ago what they wanted to be and the words,
doctor, lawyer, pilot would effortlessly roll off their tongues. But
this mentality is changing, the revolting winds have began sweeping the
young of today. This week a group of pupils visiting a TV studio were
asked what their dream careers would be and fashion designer, musician,
actress were some of the careers mentioned, in our early education days,
sounding out such careers would have been punishable by an hour's
parental lecture or a proper hiding. You see, the young of today are
much more exposed to information than we were at their age and they are
able to identify people who have made it in careers that are
The revolt has made hobbies profitable.
Hobbies were not held in great esteem and were looked at as enhancers
rather than dependable sources of income. Currently some of the most
successful young men and women are recording artistes, fashion
designers, interior designers and other aforementioned alternative
careers that sprung from hobbies. The revolt has caused youth to invest
in their hobbies and monetise them for profit and sustenance. The
investment could be also be academic, go to music school, go and learn
design or be tutored in deejaying and web design but ultimately it is
your hobby rather than academic whims that will put food on your table.
The thing with hobbies is that passion fuels the patience of reaping
success out of hobbies.
The revolt has opened the minds of
young people and they have realised glaring needs in the society. These
needs may not require 'admirable' academic credentials to fulfill. The
revolt has enabled them put their creativity into productive activities
and have created and discovered markets or expanded demand for their
creative talents. Sculpturing and diverse forms of art have benefited
young people with varied success. Photography and creative writing have
also spurred many to success.
The aim of this piece is not to
trash academics or academicians but it is to touch on an emerging
reality, the education system, 8-4-4 has created a revolt, a rebellion
from academic-reliant thinking as a measure of success. As educationist
Robert Owen put it "Students should learn what they understand and as a
result they will bring societal change"