Kenya: It's Time Kenya Abolished Boarding Primary Schools


In Africa, boarding schools were patterned on colonial models of education and were often underutilised by indigenous peoples. They were highly regimented and often instilled passivity rather than initiative, entrapping learners.

Whereas boarding schools allow students more time to study with few distractions and mould them into young impressionable adults, changes in the world and education system have created more learners' needs, making them to lose value and, hence, hardly meet learners' needs.

Corrupt young people

Boarding schools alienate students from the society. Dr Wandiya Njoya elucidated that these schools actually corrupt young people, teaching elitism and getting ahead at the expense of everyone else.

Programmes such as FPE and FSDE ensure all children access basic education by making it free, compulsory and punishable for those who go against the policy, and stating that no one should be denied admissions whatsoever.

And there are legal frameworks and international instruments that safeguard and protect children from abuses that led to establishment of boarding schools.

The boarding schools have outlived their usefulness. They are seen more as a security hazard. Education stakeholders have constantly raised concerns of unrest, unruliness and perversion. This was a concern also raised by the Basic Education Principal Secretary, Dr Bellio Kipsang, in July 2018.

Indigenous cultural extinction

Boarding schools also contribute to indigenous cultural extinction and illiteracy.

While the government did not adopt the 1999 "Totally Integrated Quality Education and Training (Tiqet)" report due to the cost implications, some recommendations, such as the introduction of boarding schools in the arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL), were implemented. But this created inequalities as not all parents could afford them.

There are far more children attending a day school than in boarding schools yet the latter is costlier.

The Special Investigation Team on School Unrest (2016) recommended that day schooling be made more attractive through deliberate funding and provision of adequate well-supported and motivated high-quality teachers.

One of the key challenge of boarding schools is increased family disintegration. Day schools have been noted to support monitoring of students by their families better than boarding schools.

Prof Catherine Gachutha, an educator and child psychologist, says in the formative years children need a family setting and that cannot be duplicated by an educator.

The sociopsychological effects of parental separation with their children at a tender age extend into adulthood and manifest as violent or abusive people, emotional detachment and passive-aggressive behaviour.

It is time to reform our education system to be100 per cent day schools in the basic level from kindergarten to Grade 12, and be accessed at the local level.

The writer is the secretary-general of Knut, is a nominated MP.

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