Josh Friedman correctly notes that Kenya needs new ideas for education in Kenya in his PopTech blog article titled Reinventing Education in Kenya, he writes
“A new venture called Bridge International Academies is reinventing the model for education in Kenya by taking a page from franchise-based corporations”.
As a Kenyan I read this article thinking it would be a mind shift, something innovative, different, exciting. But all I felt was my temperature rising. What the Bridge Academy is doing is not really new, but sounds actually like more of the same – hundreds of NGO’s, companies, churches, mosques and other groups are already in the business of low cost schooling for poor Kenyans.
Friedman touts the Bridges System as new and innovative, and the answer to the crisis facing Kenya’s education system.
To avert corruption payments are made through M-Pesa or to a bank – nothing new there I can tell you. Visiting Lamu last weekend, every mosque school had such a system in place. Many schools around the country do.
The school is affordable for parents – yes but so are all cheap schools in christian missions, churches, mosques, companies.
The school system comes in a box – well that’s only about administration, the curriculum is the national curriculum – nothing new about education there.
It’s not free therefore it’ll give a better education – what?
First, the idea of free primary school education is not a bad idea. Friedman suggests it has led to “doubtful education results”. I’m sorry but I don’t agree. For the first time in history, every Kenyan child was in school. If results were so doubtful then why are Kenyan parents up in arms about the fraud by the Ministry and withdrawal of donor funding? Because their kids will lose out on education. A massive burden was lifted from parents and while it wasn’t always perfect, every single child had a place, even a 96 year old Mzee Kimani enrolled in class 1. Free education in Kenya gave many of us me hope. Read this blog post called “Age is nothing but a number” by By Elijah Dianga, Student, Kisumu Day High School In Kenya and you will undestand why.
Mzee Kimani was able to go to school because it was free. He said “I have waited more than 80 years to go to school. Then, last year, Kenya introduced free primary education and I knew it was my only chance. At first, the school refused. But once I decided to come, no one was going to stop me.”
The Bridges Academy will not replace free schools. It will however compete with other cheap schools which are also a great idea for Kenyan familes, but it won’t help those that need free education. There are millions of Kenyans who will not afford even the low prices at the Bridges Academies, especially where the average family comprises 4 – 6 children, often plus orphaned relatives.
What gets me about Friedmans article is that he suggests that the fraud in the Kenyan education system is the reason why we need to reinvent education in Kenya by creating cheap schools. I disagree. First it was not the concept of free education that was a bad idea, it was the way that the funding was handled that was a bad idea. And the international donors (UK, USA, Sweden and others) only paid for 5% of the total free education budget.
That the funding for free education has been abused is hardly surprising. This is Kenya after all, the land of impunity. I hate it to the core and I would never put money into a corrupt institution. Only an idiot would because it’s like pouring water into a bucket full of holes. So, what on earth were the donors thinking when they poured money into an already corrupt school system? Why did they do this instead of reforming the education sector? If you ask me, they actually sabotaged their own work, and they must have known this from the get go. With due respect for Michael Rannenberger, he has not always stood up for doing things the right way and American money for the education program was not improving education but building classrooms probably because they look good and you can plant a whopping huge sign outside to remind everyone that USA built this. Go to Manda Island in Lamu where you’d have to be blind to miss the sign about he US funded rehabilitation of Manda Island school as you leave the airport…it’s got less to do with need, and everything to do with trying to look good in a place where the presence of an American Marine base is not all that welcome …(no such thing as a free lunch).
According to Friedman, one of the innovations of the Bridges Schools is that they are low cost, and yet they are still “for profit”.
Ok, lets look at the math. It costs 295 Kenyan shillings a month to send a child to a Bridge school. Thats around $4. Sounds like nothing! The school in the article has an enrollment of 119 students. That’s Ksh 35,000 (US$500) per month to run the school. That’s a budget of less than Ksh 5,000 (US $ 80) per class per month (there are 8 classes in primary school). Children don’t wear uniforms and that the learning materials are simple, classrooms are stark, students sit on benches not desks. Ok it’s clearly low cost, but how on earth can$80 a month pay a good trained teacher, and keep him or her motivated, plus pay for materials, training, power, water etc. Maybe my math is up the spout, I would love to see how a school can be run at these price, turn a profit, AND provide quality education.
Finally, I’m a bit tired of foreign imports to replace rather than fix existing infrastructure. The Bridge school system, private schools in a box, nice idea, but it’s another import that still depends on donor funding. There are hundreds if not thousands of good private schools, religious schools and donor funded schools in Kenya. They all cost something and perhaps there is a need for more low cost schools. But make no mistake, the Bridges Academy is not for free, therefore it cannot replace the free government system which caters for many millions of Kenyan.
In my view what we need is not another new foreign import, but support to conduct a total overhaul of the government system, to root out the corruption and provide the quality education that Kenyan children deserve. Parents want it, children want it…why don’t the donors want it?
Like all African countries, Kenya is inundated with well wishers trying to save the people from a greedy, murdering, inept and outright illegal government. We keep bypassing the government systems, when in fact, what we probably need to do is to work on fixing these structures and make them work properly. Otherwise we keep going around and around chasing our own tails. I’m not saying I have a solution in hand, but there have been some much more exciting proposals made that are far more innovative than the Bridges School Academy in a metal box. Why not create internet based school systems that allow children (and adults) to learn the curriculum at their own pace and time and still work if they have to? Those Kenyan born ideas however, are unlikely to attract the mega funding of donors like the Omidyar Foundation. Like many of Americas biggest private donors, you’d need to be American to get that support.
Instead of funding a completely new set of schools that may or may not work, perhaps donors like the Omidyars should consider paying for children in impoverished areas to go to already established and proven schools in the country.
Having said that, I genuinely wish the Bridges Academy well, I hope that they can sustain these schools but I take issue with Friedman suggesting that these schools are reinventing education in Kenya. Kenyans need to reinvent education in this country, fix the curriculum, root out corruption, pay teachers appropriately, and get quality education to every single child. Only then will the changes stick.
What do you think?
If you are wondering how Tony Blair sleeps at night after admitting that he lied and lied again about Iraq and still insists he did the right thing, wonder no more, the answer is Hypocrisy.
In a current article in the Economist (Jan 23 2010) titled “The Psychology of Power: Absolutely” we learn that power corrupts but only those who think they deserve it.
A series of rather clever experiments asked university students to imagine a time when they were in a position of high or low power, and to then make decisions about morality. They rated on a morality scale of 1 – 9 how immoral it was to over report travel expenses at work. The findings are a revelation. Those who imagined they had high power, thought it was not all that immoral, while those in the low power group found it morally objectionable to over report travel expenses.
Another group played a dice power game and had to volunteer their score, a value between 1 and 100. Those High Power volunteeres claimed to have rolled 70 on average, clearly lying – the statistical average is of course 50! The low power group reported an average of 59 …they too cheated but just a bit in comparison. The study goes on to explore how power corrupts those who feel they deserve power. These results are very relevant to people we know quite well, Tony Blair, George Bush, Robert Mugabe, Daniel, Gideon and other Mois, Emilio, Jimmy, Lucy and other Kibaki’s, Uhuru, Muhoho and other Kenyattas as well as the likes of Raila and other Odingas. People who believe they were born privelaged.
The scientsists from Tilburg University in Holland report that the culture of entitlement is the basis for much of the corruption we see in the world today. The students in the experiment who reported that they were entitled to power, were complete and total hypocrits and were very likely to abuse power and forgive those who also abuse power. Sound a little like Tony Blair and the Iraq affair, Kibaki and the election crisis, Moi and the Mau, Mugage and his cronies land grabbing?
And what’s interesting is that those students who felt they were not entiteld to power were much more likely to adhere to the law and judged those who failed to do so harshly. But when transgressions were made, they judged themselves more harshly than others. They are labelled hypercrits – they judge themselves even more harshely than others.
The article suggests that these people are in general quite submissive. Perhaps this is why the whistle blowers of Kenya always disappear into thin air. I mean what ever happened to John Githongo, Maina Kiai, Wangari Maathai, Gladwell Otieno, and others?
It may also reveal why we can’t elect good honest people to parliament, they simply aren’t ‘macho’ enough. Is this why we always support crops of thieving murdering pathological liars to our leadership? I mean how does the sewer rat Cyrus Jirongo keep popping up? I personally wonder if corrupt behaviour innate or is learned – I mean did Jimmy learn from Emilio? Did Gideon get his talents from Daddy?, and Uhuru – is he a chip off the old shoulder, like George Bush Jnr? I suspect that the scientists are right and if so we’re so totally screwed because democracy cannot then work. What we need is dictatorship by honest wimps.
|According to the BBC, this is a chronology of key events that shaped Kenya:
You’ll notice that they conveniently forget that the Chinese were in Kenya from the 15th Century…
They also don’t mention that over 14,000 Kenyans died during Mau Mau – and less than 100 whites
Kenya’s first president Jomo Kenyatta (his name means the light of KEnya) wore endangered species skins and carried an ivory walking stick). Like Presidents Moi and Kibaki after him, he showed little concern for the environment and wildlife and left a legacy of destruction. His own direct relatives engaged in the ivory and rhino horn trade leading to the collapse of Kenyas herds. Frankly the British didn’t do much good either – they started the whole concept of killing animals and destroying our forests. Grrrrr…..
Interestingly the post election violence that rocked Kenya in 2007 elections saw 1,500 killed, vs less well reported 2000 who are reported to have been killed in 1992 elections.
Bombing of the Norfolk Hotel in 1980 is not mentioned
Listen to one of Kenyattas most famous speeches here
BBC version of events
Evidence of some of the earliest human settlements has been found in Kenya, suggesting that it was the cradle of humanity from which descendents moved out to populate the world.
600 – Arabs begin settling coastal areas, over the centuries developing trading stations which facilitated contact with the Arab world, Persia and India.
16th century – Portuguese try to establish foothold on Kenyan coast but are driven off by Swahili states and Omani Arabs by late 17th century.
1830s – Omani Arabs consolidate control of coast.
1895 – Formation of British East African Protectorate.
Early 1900s – White settlers move into highlands, railway built from Mombasa to Lake Victoria.
1920 – East African Protectorate becomes crown colony of Kenya – administered by a British governor.
1944 – Kenyan African Union (KAU) formed to campaign for African independence. First African appointment to legislative council.
1947 – Jomo Kenyatta becomes KAU leader.
1952 – Secret Kikuyu guerrilla group known as Mau Mau begins violent campaign against white settlers. State of emergency declared. Kenyatta arrested.
1953 – Kenyatta charged with management of Mau Mau and jailed. KAU banned.
1956 – Mau Mau rebellion put down after thousands killed – mainly Africans.
1959 – Kenyatta released from jail but under house arrest.
1960 – State of emergency ends. Britain announces plans to prepare Kenya for majority African rule. Kenya African national Union (Kanu) formed by Tom Mboya and Oginga Odinga.
1961 – Kenyatta freed and assumes presidency of Kanu.
1963 – Kenya gains independence, with Kenyatta as prime minister.
1964 – Republic of Kenya formed. Kenyatta becomes president and Odinga vice-president.
1966 – Odinga, a Luo, leaves Kanu after ideological split, forms rival Kenya People’s Union (KPU).
1969 – Assassination of government minister Tom Mboya sparks ethnic unrest. KPU banned and Odinga arrested. Kanu only party to contest elections.
1974 – Kenyatta re-elected.
Moi era begins
1978 – Kenyatta dies in office, succeeded by Vice-President Daniel arap Moi.
1982 June – Kenya officially declared a one-party state by National Assembly.
1982 August – Army suppresses air force coup attempt. Private Hezekiah Ochuka rules for about six hours.
1987 – Opposition groups suppressed. International criticism of political arrests and human rights abuses.
1989 – Political prisoners freed.
1990 – Death of the foreign minister, Robert Ouko, in suspicious circumstances leads to increased dissent against government.
1991 August – Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (Ford) formed by six opposition leaders, including Oginga Odinga. Party outlawed and members arrested. Creditors suspend aid to Kenya amid fierce international condemnation.
1991 December – Special conference of Kanu agrees to introduce a multi-party political system.
1992 – Approximately 2,000 people killed in tribal conflict in the west of the country.
1992 August – Ford splits into two factions – Ford-Asili (led by ex-government minister Kenneth Matiba) and Ford-Kenya (led by Odinga).
1992 December – Moi re-elected in multi-party elections. Kanu wins strong majority.
1994 – Odinga dies. Opposition groups form coalition – the United National Democratic Alliance – but it is plagued by disagreements.
1995 – New opposition party – Safina – launched by palaeontologist Richard Leakey. Party refused official registration until November 1997.
1997 – Demonstrations calling for democratic reform. World Bank withholds disbursement of $5bn in structural adjustment credit.
1997 December – Moi wins further term in widely-criticised elections. His main opponents are former vice-president Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga, son of Oginga Odinga.
1998 August – Bomb explodes at US embassy in Nairobi, killing 224 people and injuring thousands.
1999 – Moi appoints Richard Leakey to head government drive against corruption.
2001 April – Leakey appears in court to face charges of abuse of power and perverting the course of justice.
2001 June – Parliament passes a law allowing the import and manufacture of cheap copies of anti-Aids drugs.
2001 – Ethnic tensions culminate in several violent clashes. In December thousands flee and several people are killed in rent battles involving Nubian and Luo communities in Nairobi’s Kibera slum district.
2002 July – Some 200 Maasai and Samburu tribespeople accept more than $7m in compensation from the British Ministry of Defence. The tribespeople had been bereaved or maimed by British Army explosives left on their land over the last 50 years.
2002 November – 10 Kenyans, three Israelis are killed when an Israeli-owned hotel near Mombasa is blown up by a car bomb. A simultaneous rocket attack on an Israeli airliner fails. A statement – purportedly from al-Qaeda – claims responsibility.
2002 December – Opposition presidential candidate Mwai Kibaki wins a landslide victory over Kanu rival Uhuru Kenyatta, ending Daniel arap Moi’s 24-year rule and Kanu’s four decades in power.
2003 January – Government bill proposes anti-corruption commission. Moi critic John Githongo appointed anti-graft czar.
2003 November – International Monetary Fund (IMF) resumes lending after three-year gap, citing anti-corruption measures.
2003 December – Government decides to grant former president Daniel arap Moi immunity from prosecution on corruption charges.
2004 March-July – Long-awaited draft of new constitution completed. Document requires parliament’s approval and proposes curbing president’s powers and creating post of prime minister. But deadline for enactment is missed.
2004 July-August – Food crisis, caused by crop failures and drought, dubbed “national disaster” by President Kibaki. UN launches aid appeal for vulnerable rural Kenyans.
2004 October – Kenyan ecologist Wangari Maathai wins the Nobel Peace Prize.
Controversy over jail conditions amid intense media coverage of inmate deaths at Meru jail in the east.
2005 January – Clashes over land and water rights leave more than 40 people dead.
2005 February – Corruption takes centre stage when it is claimed that graft has cost Kenya $1bn under Kibaki. Leading anti-graft official John Githongo resigns. International donors voice unease.
2005 July – Raiders kill 76 villagers, most of them women and children, in the north-east. The massacre is blamed on a rival clan.
Parliament approves a draft constitution after days of violent protests in Nairobi over aspects of the draft which demonstrators say give too much power to in the president’s hands.
2005 November-December – Voters reject a proposed new constitution in what is seen as a protest against President Kibaki. The president replaces his cabinet; some nominees reject their appointments.
2006 January – Government says four million people in the north need food aid because of a drought which the president calls a “national disaster”.
2006 January-February – Government ministers are linked to a corruption scandal involving contracts for a phantom company. One of them, Finance Minister David Mwiraria, resigns and says allegations against him are false.
2006 March – Armed police, acting on government orders, raid the offices and presses of the Standard group, one of Kenya’s leading media companies.
2006 April – Three days of national mourning are declared after an aircraft carrying several prominent politicians crashes in the north.
2006 April – Visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao signs a contract allowing China to prospect for oil off the Kenyan coast. His African tour has focused on trying to satisfy China’s hunger for energy and raw materials.
2006 October – UN says some 35,000 Somalis escaping drought, Islamist rule and looming conflict have arrived in Kenyan camps since early 2006.
2006 November – December – Regional flooding renders thousands homeless. Some 100,000 Somali refugees cut off by floodwaters in the north-east are supplied by air drops.
2007 May – A Kenya Airways plane with 114 people on board crashes in Cameroon.
2007 December – Presidential elections. President Kibaki claims victory and a second term in office, prompting a wave of unrest. Opposition says polls were rigged.
Opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) wins most seats in the parliamentary election.
2008 January – Post-election violence kills more than 1,500, including an MP.
2008 February – Former UN chief Koffi Annan brokers talks between President Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, which lead to signing of a power-sharing deal.
2008 April – Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga agree cabinet list. The 40-member cabinet is Kenya’s largest and costliest ever.
2008 October – Report into post-election clashes calls for international tribunal to try those implicated in violence. Many political leaders are reluctant to implement the commission of inquiry’s recommendations, with some arguing that prosecutions could trigger further clashes between communities.
2008 December – Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) accuses seven current and former MPs of taking illegal allowances worth $250,000.
2009 July – Kenya’s cabinet announces that it will not set up a special tribunal over last year’s post-election violence, and will use local courts instead.
2009 August – Visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticises Kenya for failing to investigate the deadly violence after the 2007 election.
Kenya says that at least 10 million people, or one third of the population, are in need of food aid. The government mobilises the military to distribute food, water and medicines to areas hit hardest by drought.
2009 November – Kenya publishes a draft constitution which would cut the president’s powers and put the prime minister in charge of routine government business, fo
Isn’t it amazing that we can’t get organized to deal with the remaining IDP’s, we’re still fighting over the Mau, and 2 years after the post election crisis, nobody has yet gone to the Hague, or been charged with causing the crisis….. things work so slowly in Kenya – except when gay rights come into play. On gay issues we’re spot on ready to defend our God Given Christian virtues and hammer back those deviants.
Yesterday Parliamentarians deleted a controversial clause in the draft Constitution that could have legalized same sex marriages.
No matter that same sex marriage actually exists in some Kenyan indigenous cultures.
While some people are still outraged, blinkered and mind blocked at the concept of homosexuality, the same people see no problem with an even more bizarre marriage, that between Raila and Kibaki in the so called coalition government. What about the hybrid constitution that is being proposed. Isn’t that a deadly dangerous deviant arrangement?
As angry as I am that our leaders are so STUPID and irrational, I am impressed that Caroline Mutoko has the balls to raise the issue on radio without falling into the gay bashing trap of yesteryear, she says that Kenyans already tolerate gays enough, and better than other African countries, but expecting to have gay marriages allowed “there is only so far we can go”
That’s sad but true. If it were allowed I’m sure that a number of our parliamentarians would be heaving a sigh of relief that they can finally come out of that lonely closet.
PLEASE NOTE: I’m kinda sick of the gay bashing comments people try to leave on this blog so if you want to vent the hatred in your heart to your fellow human beings through my blog, I won’t let you. Please leave only comments that contribute constructively to the discussion.
Here’s a puzzle that’s been bothering me. Read, chew on it, leave me a comment, forward widely.
After a shipwreck Carol and her mother end up washed up on an island.
Across the shark infested waters are her boyfriend James, and his friend Jack.
Henry, another victim of the shipwreck, remains at sea on a life boat.
Carol asks Henry to take her to the other island that her boyfriend is on.
He says he’ll do it, but only on condition that she sleeps with him.
She asks her mother what she should do. Her mum says, do what you like.
She sleeps with Henry and afterwards he takes her across the island with James.
James is delighted to see her and after a bit of nooky, asks how she got to cross, Henry is known to be an A-hole.
She tells him what she had to do and he explodes and starts beating up on her.
Jack hears Carol screaming from the other side of the island and comes running over to rescue her from the brutal James. Carol falls in love with him and they end up together.
So who is the best person in the story and who is the worst and why? Leave me a comment
All these photographs were taken at the Nairobi National Park
Big thanks to Peter Greste who took some of the best photos
And for sharing such an awesome moment with me.
I love this story – and the photographer deserves an award.
When caught with 107 fake credit cards, just use the finger
A man who claims to be a Russian was arrested in Nairobi on Thursday after he was found withdrawing money from an automated teller machine (ATM) while in possession of 107 fake bank cards.
You can’t afford to damage your eyes while watching the awesome solar eclipse tomorrow. Buy a pair of welding glasses (Ksh 200 at most hard ware stores – test them first by looking around and towards the sun – it should be very dark glass) or follow these tips
Moi, Kibaki and all the other uselesss politicans in this country have left us no choice but to replant the Mau ourselves.
So, @kahenya (kahenya.com) and I are going on a wild expedition to Ogiek-land with Dr. Mukuria to learn about how we slept when the forest was destroyed, and to replant our own patch with indigenous trees ….and God Forbid anyone tries to chop them down. This is part of a lifetime commitment to repair this damaged country.
Join us, we need your help, please make your contribution to the Kahenya smile-or-swear-for-a-tree campaign, and we will plant trees, and bring you news from that bleeding heart of Kenya
MPESA your contribution to 0724985074 or make an online donation to Mau-Mandala blog
Kenyan journalists must have all trained at the same school of journalism where they earned their MC’s – Master of Cliches.
President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga Yesterday held “closed door meetings” of their parties to “hammer out party positions on new law ahead of negotiations. Meanwhile “heavy rains pound various parts of the country”.
Here are some of our favourite cliches.
Wrongful shootings by police – “killed in a shoot out, unclear if he was felled by police bullet or if carjackers shot him”
Exra-judicial police killings of suspects – “Carjacker was gunned down”
Impersonators – “masquerading as a tax official”
Illegal search of suspects house – “Tobacco, pillows, knife and fork, and a kitchen sink were also found in the mans house”
Lobbying – “angling to get a foothold”
Investigating fraud – “unravel theft”
While cliches allow editors to recycle about 50% of all phrases each day, journalists reserve the best chiches for themselves whenever the Media Act is discussed.
Lets be clear, the new media legislation aims ban on offensive language and glorification of violence. Sounds good no? No? Not according to journalists who go overboard on the issue describing it as “anti democratic, narrow minded, gagging the media, fundamentally violating the enjoyment of Kenyan citizens, muzzling the media, and contravening the right to freedom of expression and conscience of, and free press”
I think I love this new law – finally something to stop Caroline Mutoko and gang from gay bashing and spreading homophobic hate and violence.
- carbon emissions
- carbon footprint
- Climate change
- Gay Bill
- gender violence
- green house gases
- spouse abuse
- Wildebeest migration