Victor Ochieng’

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As someone who has visited different parts of this country to address students, parents and teachers; I understood what Professor George Magoha was saying about the 2021 Form One secondary schools’ placement process and procedure. While speaking at Kenya High School at the cusp of this week, the self-styled professor assured the public that placement of the 2021 KCPE class into secondary schools will be free and fair. No one would oil the cogs of corruption that often dent this important exercise. The top gun at the Ministry of Education (MoE) spoke of affirmative action taking a centre stage.

To begin with, affirmative action has its origin in the occidental world, America to be exact. It is an active effort to improve employment and deployment of educational opportunities for members of the minority groups. It started as a stupendous strategy of the government to address the devastating effects of long-standing discrimination against down-trodden groups. By and large affirmative action abuts on well-thought-out policies, programmes and procedure that give fair chances to minorities in reference to admission into government institutions.

Just to apprise you, for the past three years, the MoE has been using affirmative action in matters placement of learners in national schools, where all top five candidates of every gender from every sub-county are placed in top schools on the basis of choices they made during selection of secondary schools while they were in STD 8. No wonder, in the recent past, I penned a piece titled: Good guidance is necessary during selection of secondary schools.

It is also important to know, national schools are symbols and emblems of national unity. Therefore, when a child from Turkana gets admitted at Kisima Girls’ National School in Samburu, and meets, interacts with, and appreciates peculiarity of a peer from Kisumu, our education system fulfils one of its golden goals: To foster nationalism, patriotism and promotion of national unity

Moreover, placement process is given keen interest by the public, because some previous ones have attempted to dodge and dribbled the principle of fairness. More so, when it comes to placements in the national schools. Some parents whose children merited, but obviously oblivious of the antics and subtle schemes dragged into placement process, have always been short-changed, and left weeping uncontrollably. This is a sad state of affairs, for there is nothing bad like when an opportunity that rightfully belongs to someone is blatantly wrested.

In addition, we wistfully remember of an elderly woman who wept bitterly last year in the full glare of the cameras. She he had dwarfed distance all the way from Western Kenya to a national school in Mt. Kenya region where her daughter had been placed by the concerned parties. But to her utter surprise, when she arrived there, she realised that some clever and crafty characters had tampered with the system, and transferred her daughter to a school of ‘low’ status. This was unacceptable. All Kenyans of good will condemned the insensitive stance of callous characters who did that to a woman who perhaps was a widow struggling to eke out a living.

Maybe, the arrowheads of that school had reasons best known to them on why they chose to transfer the lass to another school. But little did they know that they were contravening the government policy on secondary school’s placement process and procedure. Even if they thought that the girl did not merit to be admitted in that national school, what if she secured that highly-coveted chance due to affirmative action?

In retrospect, taking you back to Professor Magoha’s presser at Kenya High School, most Kenyans lauded his stance on matters secondary schools’ placement. More so, when he gyrated and gravitated towards the exigent need for affirmative action taking preeminence. Affirmative action should be applied in secondary schools’ selection so that learners from squalid slums and marginalised counties get a fair share of the infinite spectrum of opportunities in our motherland.

Therefore, affirmative action means that when it comes to the notion of dolling out open opportunities, we develop a soft spot for those who are from marginalised communities. We consider people that hail from hardship zones and horizons. Affirmative action means that we think of people in low estate so that we gave them a face-lift. Through this, somewhat; the government meets another golden goal of education: To promote equity and responsibility.

In conclusion, it is only through affirmative action that the government can waive off qualifications required for bright but needy learners to also join top-tier schools in the land. With that knowledge, powers-that-be can also fast-track scholarship and philanthropic programmes for students who whose challenge is acute cash crunch. 

The writer rolls out Form One Plug-in Programmes in Secondary Schools. He speaks to Teachers, Students and Parents during the Orientation and Induction Days.

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