5 December 2012

Kenya: Right of Reply - in Defense of Home Schooling


I take issue with an article published on Friday Nov 23rd 2012 by Kennedy Buhere entitled 'Bill seeks to lay firm ground for education' who said: "Home schooling is well developed system in throughout Canada, France, UK, US and in such countries as Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and South Africa.

Under the Home-schooling system, families opt for them in order to help teach subjects, such as foreign languages and sciences. Parents in these countries, have a comparatively sophisticated education; this gives them the technical ability to provide instruction/tuition to their children in areas they have competence.

They also have the means to hire tutors to provide such instruction from home. Not Kenyan parents. Kenyan families don't have the necessary educational background to know the kind of instruction that constitute education.Nor do they have the pedagogical skills to impart such an education even if they knew what is good for their children.

They therefore cannot provide a coherent and systematic education experience to their children. Nor do they have the means to hire qualified teachers for this purpose"

This statement exposes the unfortunate ignorance and misinformation that drives the stewards of education in this country. First and foremost, many homeschoolers are intellectuals and contrary to the views expressed, are totally competent to teach our children.

The sentiments expressed above are unfortunate and are based on assumptions and prejudiced opinions. The same was expressed in countries that today have embraced this fast growing social movement.

Scientific research is available for any Kenyan to see the success of homeschooling. Who teaches children how to eat, sleep, communicate if it isn't the parents? Education aims at preparing responsible and God fearing individuals--that does not require any academic certification to teach. The Family is the school of the character that young people need today to face the challenges of life. There is no scientific data to back the claim by government that free and compulsory education will save a country. On the contrary this situation has led to state control of education for political ideology education and social reconstruction.

What irks governments about homeschoolers is that they are no push over and they think for themselves. Homeschoolers are leaders and people who are not afraid to go against the tide. They are not conformists, a state of mind that is uncomfortable to many governments.

Homeschooling provides a much sort after precious family atmosphere where children and parents grow closer to each other. It provides tailor made learning conducive the temperament of the child in a loving atmosphere of the individualized care of a concerned parent. It breaks all the norms of conventional schooling that standardizes all children by providing a one-size fits all education that fails to recognize the individuality of the person.

Homeschooling is fun since learning is all the time. Children who are homeschooled are complete individual not driven by peer pressure and societal bigotry but instead embrace all people irrespective of age, creed, color etc.

The right of parents to educate their children is not a state decision as the Minister would have people believe. The fact that a few parents have absconded their responsibilities does not give anyone the right to condemn those who are doing what is best for their children.

Homeschoolers choose to home educate their children for various reasons top of which is religious and philosophical convictions. We are not begging but demanding recognition of our parental rights entrenched in international law and in the Kenya Constitution Chapter 2(6).

The Education minister and the parliamentary committee on education have snubbed our appeals to appear before them and instead are issuing deceptive and ill informed positions on a subject they have very little knowledge of.

Thomas Mundia is a Homeschooler and board member of East Africa Community of Homeschoolers

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