Kenya Update by Tanner Holcomb
Education in Kenya
At the English camp in Kathawana, there are two boys who lean over the fence every day, staring at the kids in school.They wish that they could afford the tuition and attend the school for an education.
Education is one of the best ways to eliminate systemic poverty and create a productive society. That’s why people in the United States pay taxes for public education.Our security guard, James, was surprised that American students take their free education so casually. In Kenya, families often live without food so that they can afford tuition and uniforms. Tuition at St. Peter’s, where we are staying in Kajuki, is 6,000 shillings (60 USD) annually.
At St. Peter’s, the secondary school students have just started their final examinations. It’s a stressful situation – if the students don’t pass, their families paid all the tuition for nothing. I found a copy of a geography examination from 2012 at the school. It’s Paper 2–four pages, two sections, and 120 marks. The questions are similar to those you would find in a U.S. university, but high school students
are taking it. Although the level is advanced, our guide Joel told me that after finishing secondary school, most students begin farming because they cannot afford university tuition.
Home visits gave us an opportunity to ask native Kenyans about their culture and life. Many of the people I talked to on home visits told me that they had gone to school but dropped out because they could not
I asked one of the women what she thought of the white people coming to Kenya. She told me she thought it was beneficial, because the white people help with education. The Great White Hope occurs when participants of humanitarian aid and are automatically associated with wealth, power, and privilege. This leads to structural discrimination, where social structures become based on race. While it is important to avoid structural discrimination, education leads to an end in poverty. We have to find a balance – providing education for Kenyans while still avoiding discrimination in culture.
Youthlinc is all about creating sustainability through education. Everything we do in Kenya has an educational aspect to it. At the home visits, we gave out toothbrushes and taught them how to use it. We are teaching English in Kathawana and maturation in the surrounding areas. At the same time, we have to avoid being seen as the Great White Hope. We are trying to be the people that provide ways to create sustainability. That is what we are able to accomplish with education. Through our efforts, some day those two boys watching from the fence in Kathawana could be learning in the school.