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Education a preserve of the rich?

22 January 2014, 11:55 Pancras Mutuma

The recent performances and ensuing statistics after the primary school results are announced has often left many disappointed. Hopes have been dashed, potential career prospects ended in a second and ambition quashed. Many families have been left distraught with no hope for their young ones as the hope for a bright and better future seems a never ending mirage. In order to tackle this perennial problem, there is a dire need to revisit the drawing boards and ask ourselves, where did it all go wrong?

Prior to the advent of free primary school education, things were different. In fact, those days were better; performance was generally better in public schools. Come the much publicised free primary school education in 2003 with the NARC government and everything when amok. Enrolment hit all-time peaks. Many were happy that they would get a chance at education, something that had been a preserve of those with financial muscle in the society. A great initiative by the government, a thing that came later on to be enshrined in the constitution. The first batch of pupils to go through primary school through the free primary education scheme did their examinations around 2009. The statistics show that there were not very good results. This has unfortunately been the trend since then.

Those in the society with good finances have ensured that their children are enrolled in private schools where education systems are better. Where there is better supervision. Where there is better provision and installation of morals and discipline in the children. Many would rather spend money and enrol their children into this system as opposed to having them go to public schools where systems are wanting and the quality of education provided, appalling, to say the least.

A recent news story about a primary school with a population of over 3,500 pupils and around 28 teachers left many with more questions than answers. What is the level of teacher-pupil interaction? Are the teachers able to monitor progress in each and every of the 125 or the thereabouts pupils that they are allocated every day? This particular case is not isolated. The picture is the same in so many public schools around the country. Is there quality provided? Your answer possibly is as good as mine. The interaction is not present. The pupils do not get the knowledge that they need instilled in them. Their discipline levels are low. The results are poor at the end of their eight years of study. The numbers of students missing out on form one places will continue rising year after year. Consequently, desperation and hopelessness will sink into those missing out on those places as there is no proper contingency plan for them. Crime levels will keep on rising as these hapless young people often turn to crime.

Proper primary school education is not free and has never been free ever since it was introduced. Proper education comes at a huge cost. Maybe it is time the government went back to the drawing boards. Can free and quality primary school education be achieved? I believe it can, yes!

With proper structures, proper funding, proper accountability, proper monitoring and much more improved efforts from the government, our children can start getting proper free primary and even secondary school education. At the moment though, education will remain a preserve of the financially endowed.

 Pancras Mutuma-Public Relations Consultant

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