KENYA SUMAKU

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Taking chemistry lessons the village way!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Popular Ombudsman on July 26, 2009

I was struck today by an illustrious story – recounted by teacher number one(this is for real – forget the Nyayo days when Moi was number one in every conceivable field of human endeavor!). This lady’s story, recounted by all the newspapers is one that inspires all – at least those who understand what it takes to transform a village herds boy into a jet set top notch consultant – doctor, lawyer……….ad infinitum.

As I was reading the story of one Alice Omari of Pangani Girls High and the circumstances under which she was declared the top teacher,I was reminded of a story, narrated to me by a close family member – a story that epitomizes all that can go wrong in every conceivable sense of the word in a school environment.

There was this secondary school – ‘harambee’ in terms of classification, that annually harvested its intake from the neighboring villages after the ‘super league’ high schools had skimmed off the top performers from nearby primary schools.Understandably, the incoming crop of form ones – year in, year out – had a set of challenges that fell into a predictable pattern : poor literacy and numeracy skills, perennial problems with fee payment and rampant cases of indiscipline.

During one of the many occasions – as used to happen many times, the form four students were transported to a neighboring secondary school to take their chemistry practicals.The poor students had never set foot inside a functioning laboratory – let alone perform an experiment!!!!!!!

As the drama unfolded, for lack of a better option, the host teacher ushered them into the lab and after giving the very basic guidelines on what was to be found where, he let his colleague who had accompanied the students to take over.What followed is indescribable! Mr teacher sir himself was a greenhorn – a stranger to the complicated world of chemistry.

A million questions flashed through the mind of the host teacher – chief among them being; just how on earth did the fellow end-up teaching chemistry when he couldn’t perform an experiment or even guide his students during an examinable practical?

As can be easily predicted – his precious students failed the subject – en mass, and the school progressively sunk into oblivion.However, the most fundamental question is this – who failed the school in this case,was it the teacher whose incompetence was all too manifest or the quality of students admitted to the school? Could it have been lack of proper facilities?

Anyway, have an inquisitive day.

Nyamongo Kegwora

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