Perching on a pile of dirt where a tree once stood, a bird lands chirping for its former home. Progress. As workers hastily hack away at the roots of a tree, the forest pines around them. Progress. In the rubble of sticks and leaves, a new foundation for dorms and classrooms is laid. Progress. Crushed beneath stones and concrete, banana tree roots decay under new housing for teachers and administrators. Progress.
Kenya is in a moment of transition. On the cusp of a Presidential election, the two leading candidates, Raila Odinga and William Ruto, pander for support in the August 9th election. In education, secondary schools are preparing for the first classes of the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) model following the 8-4-4 model, which has been around since 1985. (8-4-4 represents: 8 years of primary school; 4 years of secondary school; and a minimum of 4 years of college. For more details on the Kenyan education system, check out this research paper by Maurice Amutabi, professor at The Technical University of Kenya or this AfricaReport article on the political issues surrounding the transition.)
Regardless of the election outcomes, the education policy transition is physically altering secondary schools nationwide. Here at Saint Xavier High School Bungoma, the change is palpable.
Daily, saws cut at metal, axes chop at trees that pummel the ground, buckets scurry up ropes as painters bathe bricks in brilliant yellows and radiant greens, and large trucks hustle down the road carrying mountains of building material. Coming to completion in just a few weeks, a new multipurpose building, assembly hall, cafeteria, and modern kitchen will be ready for students before they return from the election recess. By the end of the calendar year, the original one-room schoolhouse will be refurbished to make space for the dual classes arriving in January; the final class of 8-4-4 students and the first class of CBC students. In two years, hopes to repurpose the old assembly hall into a new dormitory and construct a new building for classrooms, a library, and a computer lab are moving from detailed blueprints to physical plans. The constant construction brings hope of untold potential.
Progress is not without its challenges. With the exciting news of buildings and infrastructure, questions of affordability surface. The inevitable worry that “if you build it, they will come” will flop rather than have angelic success. Progress marches onward with certain confidence that the road is best paved brick by brick under each step.
As we wait for students to return from break and anticipate the start of the new term, the quiet compound speaks of stories yet to be written, buildings yet to be designed, and progress for a future yet to be determined.
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Bobby⭐️, Whether it is 8-4-4, 2-6-3-3, or any other combination of numbers, I have often thought that the three R’s (readin’ writin’ and rithmatic), along with just being a good person, are all that matters. Bergy
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