- August 11, 2021
I happened to be in Chuka town this past week. I couldn’t help but notice the beehive of activities taking place – on the road, in supermarkets and all around me. With blue and yellow metallic boxes stacked on their heads or back, parents were holding tightly onto their very innocent children. Both the parents and the students seemed exhausted, tired and worried.
This encounter rekindled my memories of joining Tumutumu girls in Nyeri County in the year 2004. I vividly remember the morning I joined high school; how we went to our home Kiosk with the shopping list: 2 tissue papers, toothpaste, Arimis, cotton wool, shoe polish, shoe brush and a comb. The other items such as Kamusi, dictionary, golden bells, a mathematical table had been generously gifted to me by my neighbours. The nightdress, towel, and blue metallic box belonged to my mother.
Like those many mothers I encountered in Chuka town this week, my mum carried the metallic box on her back for 1.7 km from Giagatika to Tumutumu. I was both excited to be away from home and worried about the many uncertainties ahead. And today, I wonder, was it worth it? Are boarding schools worth it? Why can’t children join the nearest day secondary school?
I have always restrained myself from this discussion of “day schools are better than boarding schools”. Interestingly, when the conversation of deboarding gained momentum in Kenya, I was one of its biggest opponents. I believed that children need to explore other surroundings and get value for the sleepless nights spent reading to secure admission to that “National School”. But after some deep reflections, and for the following three reasons, I think all Kenyans must support deboarding of schools.
1. Reduced costs
In 2008, the Government of Kenya introduced the subsidized secondary education programme to ensure that all children gain secondary education, regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds. Under the programme, the Government meets tuition fees of Kshs 10,265 per student per year for all children enrolled in public secondary schools. Guardians, on the other hand, cover lunch, transport, and uniform costs. In most day schools, this comes to a total of Kshs 2,000 (20 USD) per term in a day school. In a boarding school, this costs around Kshs 30,000 (300 USD) per term. This means that a one-term fee in a boarding school is enough to cater for the four years’ fees in a day school.
2. Increase in parental engagement
Parents are the ones who brought their children to life, therefore, they directly impact those children’s lives. Their job is to motivate, encourage and influence their children positively. This requires time and commitment. Day schools provide parents with enough time to mould their children into what they want them to be.
Researchers have identified the following three ways that parents can continuously support their children’s learning: support their education, create a conducive learning environment at home and help them with homework.
Additionally, the Competency-Based Curriculum puts the parents at the center of education; this means that the parent is the first educator, trainer and source of authority for the child.
3. Quality education for all
Many middle-income earners in Kenya have no interest in the quality of education offered in rural schools; after all, their children will not go to those schools. Notably, the rural day school has been “preserved” for two types of students: the very bright children with no school fees and those who perform poorly academically. These schools lack enough teachers, and those that are there are not motivated. They lack the right resources and infrastructure. They lack the goodwill needed from the community to thrive. However, if there is no alternative to day schools, all Kenyans will demand quality education in local schools. And many will invest the time and resources needed to improve their standards.
Having boarding schools is a form of discrimination against those who cannot afford to get there. And as long as they exist, the dream of quality education for all will never truly be realized.
It is time to deboard!
- It’s Time to Deboard- Reasons Why Boarding Schools Should Be Abolished - August 11, 2021
- Lessons From My Mama: Is Closing Schools in Times of Unrest a Lasting Solution? - July 16, 2021
- One Year After Her Son’s Birth, Dr Purity Ngina Offers Her Perspectives on Maternal Healthcare in Kenya - June 16, 2021