We all love to be at the top. We want the pedestal and the awed gaze of passing mortals. Its lovely at the top of the foodchain. Its lovely to be deferred to, to see look the defeated look of those who can never be like you, to pick and chose the fair at the head of life’s table. It’s awe-inspiring you know, to be great and have no one question it. You are great; end of story.
This is the beaten path but lets take a walk. See those who see it as a challenge for students, ranking that is, do not see that challenge is between equals or at least those that perceive themselves as equals. It would be insane for me to challenge Mike Tyson to a boxing (what is it called, match? round?). Not because of the gender fact but come on it would take all the gods in the universe and Mike Tyson frozen in place for me to land a punch.
See when you company are Alliance High School with God-only-knows-where-we-are Secondary School. That’s unequal competition and that has nothing to do with the fact that the students at the latter have never see tarmac or have to make major plans for such an excursion.
It is unfair because:
a) Entry behavior. That big school with all the As gets the pick of the crop. So all the 450s go there. Top scorers at KCPE end up there. And the teacher has no problem creating good results. Am not saying its a walk in the park for said teacher, not at all. But its easier to make an A if you dont have to teach English first. See if all you had to do was teach and examine in the language the students knew best well…. Nowhere-On-Google-Maps would be making A+s in no time. But you cant compare 147 to 444. These students are worlds apart to have them compete with each other is unfair.
b) Physical facilities. Its all nice to have a teacher tell you that the reason his school does well is because he exposes the students to pracicals and a lot of continuous assessment. Yes TRUE that will get you better results. Practice makes perfect. In a school where most of the classes are held outside how will the practicals be possible. The principal is more concerned about providing lunch than endless exams. There is a general feeling that secondary education is free so parents just don’t want to give a dime, you pressure them and they transfer them to the next Day school. See they are five for a shilling. Now the result creating ideas cant work in these circumstances. You cant compare students with barely any textbooks to students who spend their days testing personal theories in state-of-art labs.
c) Staffing If you walk into one of these Giant schools you would think that well understaffing is a myth created by lazy teachers. From the fees paid par year they can easily employ teachers if and when they need help or teachers aren’t energy enough. Most of the day-schools out there have 2,3 TSC teachers and the rest is done by F4 leavers or teachers in training. Often these teachers are not that motivated since the pay is mostly in terms of “God bless you” and as this is a noble proffesion, whoever heard of nobility needing a job to survive. So in the end very little or very poor teaching takes place.
d) Role models. its nice to be in a classroom where students want to be doctors like mummy and daddy or teachers like Mr.Maths Teacher or Lawyer like uncle Judas. Those students have dreams about the cars they want to drive and live for the day they can buy their own R8 or Range Rover of some kind. Picture a student who looks forward to visiting their mothers office or driving uncles car to some joint with friends and compare that to one who is looking forward to borrowing his friend John’s motorcycle to ferry passengers from one place to another looking very cool. Remember John’s parents bought him that bike when he dropped out of school last year. Now which of the two is likely to work harder in school assuming both parents discipline their children in the same way?
My point is the minister was correct in abolishing ranking for reasons above and many others that resulted in the underhand methods used by teachers, students and parents to ensure the school was at the top. It is important to note that this of course doesn’t get rid of exam irregularities. Although it does reduce the number of players. It will probably reduce thinning in Form3 so that an average or below average student doesn’t feel harrassed by the system that only cares for the quick student. It would be nice to have a system that builds on the students abilities and doesn’t tear apart self-worth every passing day. A system that regards every child bright and no so bright as an important member of society.