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Everyday life in Kenya - The Good and the Bad


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Oscar Otindo
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John Kamau, a Kenyan, heads home from industrial area where most casual laborers are employed at a very minimum wage. He reaches his Kibera, the biggest slum in East and Central Africa and the second biggest slum in Africa. He prepares his supper ugali, Kenya's staple food made from maize meal, and soup. But this soup isn't an ordinary one, it's prepared by water mixed with salt to taste. Some may wonder if this meal is very delicious or is a type of cuisine but the reason is he cannot afford food due to increased food prices and considered poor by the society.

Inability to afford some basic needs like healthcare, nutrition and clothing is poverty or destitution. It may be state of an individual, society or the whole nation where it has few resources and income as compared to other nations' averages.

Lack of industrialization has rendered most people jobless, they have no source of income, they cannot afford basic human needs. This reduces the living standards of people and little Gross Domestic Product realized by the country since very less money is collect in terms of revenue. Increased costs of living through increase in taxes by the government which raises the price of basic commodities like food and clothing makes it unaffordable for most of the citizens. Centralization, many resources, facilities, industries and headquarters being located in the capital city leads to rural-urban migration. Old people who provide less work force are left in the village as juveniles migrate for better jobs, unfortunately they get none while those lucky only work on minimum wages hence increase in number of slums in urban areas while lack of any economic activity as the elderly can only produce less.

Laying off of workers through a forced retirement scheme, retrenchment, so as to have a manageable number of employees by the government has greatly increased poverty. Privatization of many institutions to foreign investors who take back most of their profits to their native lands hence the government also getting taxes from the firms while the citizens get low paying jobs since foreigners don't understand the problems of the locals so they don't consider other factors in their wages. Poor education system also leads to poverty since the students aren't trained well to exercise their full potential.

The major factor causing poverty in Kenya is corruption, mismanaging state funds by political leaders leading to collapse of state firms, showing no respect to state resources and giving employment opportunities to unqualified personnel after receiving bribes or due to tribalism. Citizens may be blamed of not working hard or smart to raise their living standards but their efforts aren't appreciated by the government as it literally steals fro them hence denying them the opportunity of eradicating poverty.

POOR EDUCATION IN KENYA:

Kenya Certificate of Primary Education, an exam used to test what the pupil has learnt in the 8 year long experience as also used as a selection guide to secondary schools, results are out, it's the first group to have fully undertake the free primary education which was launched in 2003, it's an achievement to the government and worth celebrating. An 8-4-4 education system, 8 years primary school, 4 years high school and 4 years in college. Not every news is received well or celebrated, it was to the dismay of parents and pupils from private schools that they will be a second priority to pupils from government schools in selection for form one high school opportunities.

Usually in Kenya, private primary schools perform far way better than government schools while in the contrary government secondary schools perform better as compared to private schools. Reasons being that, since the state of free primary education, poor learning environment, shortage of learning materials and teachers due to unemployment, congestion in classrooms has led to the poor performance. Private schools have all that they need, sufficient learning materials, adequate staff, provision of a good learning environment hence the better results.

Due to their very good results, pupils from private schools are selected to join national secondary schools, few to the provincial schools. Most of the pupils in government schools a few are selected to join national schools and provincial schools while many to district schools. This form of hierarchy, national, provincial, district schools, also have a priority of selecting the best students with the national schools carrying out the first selection.

The government had announced that this time round, most of the national schools will give a priority to the less fortunate pupils from government schools. An issue shattered the dreams of many pupils wishing to join the prestigious schools in the country and pursue their career dreams. Parents were also affected since most of them took their children to private schools to access better education and have a higher bargaining power when it comes to secondary schools selection.

Misusing and non accountability of funds meant for free primary education from donors and the government has lead to; insufficient learning materials as school libraries' lack text books meant for research, lack of chalks and exercise books. Also the government hasn't been employing teachers for a while since they lack funds to manage them as most of the revenue they collected is either pocketed by a few or used in political campaigns. No new schools are built to meet the demand of many pupils being admitted leading to congestion in schools. The schools also lack other social amenities like playing fields since most of the school land has been accommodated by classrooms erected hurriedly fir the increasing number of pupils. They also lack access to computers which is a key facility since the current world is technology oriented.

Also some of the private colleges and higher learning institutions were declared illegal and offer substandard education. Pundits argue that education has been commercialized in Kenya due to the number of new institutions coming up in every building and street in the capital city. The question is who registered these schools?

The government should not favor pupils from government schools but provide a better environment to allow the compete favorably with their counterparts from private schools.

By Oscar Otindo

The writer is a Kenyan volunteer and activist based in Nairobi, Kenya.


 
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I am also Kenyan and I feel kenya is the richest and the most beautiful country on earth no matter what people say. There is no place like Kenya. Kenyans are the best and the most freindly people on earth. I love Kenya and all of Africa. It is true sometimes we face some hardships here but every country on earth has their own problems too so we should be proud of what we have. God bless Kenya and may God bless all of Africa and the world in general.


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