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Daily Nation : February 10th 2014
DAILY NATION Monday February 10, 2014 thewag One policy ‘a scam’ 5 To be happy, all you need are the basics BY CIKU KIMANI firstname.lastname@example.org Staff and pupils at St Kevin Academy Nyali, Mombasa join the proprietor Kevin Nyongesa (in yellow) to celebrate their good performance in last year’s KCPE in this file photo. Private schools claim they are getting a raw deal in Form One selections, which favour public school candidates. and parents are willing to pay. And public schools can bask in the glory of the passes of children they never taught and their mean scores at no cost. Of course the headmaster gets something for his kindness. After the hullabaloo of admission to national schools, do these kids really join those schools? A parent who could not afford the Sh10,000 charged in a private school is expected to pay Sh100,000 in a national school? Has anyone ever done a follow up to find out how many of these children join the schools they are admitted to? Over the years, I have found that most of the children from rich families end up in national schools with much lower marks than announced; whose places are those? Secondary school admission is the prerogative of the headteacher. This is something I did and can vouch for. The first lot comes in as per the selection list, and even before those have reported, admission letters are given out. With experience, a head teacher knows what percentage of pupils will report. The rest are dished out at his/her discretion. So the private school pupils the ministry locked out are not really locked out. The people the ministry really wants to lock out are influential parents who get their schools of choice, certainly at additional cost. And the way it is done is causing anarchy. These parents can afford, and are ready to pay, the extra money (it gives them that added satisfaction of having done something for their kids) and secondary school heads have more places they can dish out at their convenience, which suits them too. Over the years, I have realised that anything new the government does benefits a few people and makes it very difficult for those who follow the rules. It has reached a point where no one takes government directives seriously. (Name withheld on request). THIS DISCRIMINATION GIVES ROOM FOR CORRUPTION. END IT! Dear Waga, I couldn’t agree with you more on the issue of Form One selection! My son scored 384 points and could not get a school simply because he was from a private school. This discrimination gives leeway for corruption. Positions in these national schools are hawked for between Sh50,000 and 100,000. The fees is prohibitive and poor families will not afford to take their children to high school. I think in the end private school kids will get the positions, but at a cost. And the cycle will continue. Liz YOU MISS THE POINT, THE GOVT IS RIGHT TO RESTRICT ADMISSIONS Dear Waga, Let me declare at the outset that my daughters attend private schools in Nairobi, are dropped and picked by private means and perform reasonably well. I am a proud product of a public primary school, and I went to school barefoot. I ended up at an Ivy League school in the United States after studying law at my alma mater, the University of Nairobi, of which I am very proud. Guess what? I support the government policy of skewing admissions to high school to favour public primary schools. The solution is to build private secondary schools to rival Alliance, Mang’u, Maranda, etc. Our children who go to private primary schools should have a true choice to continue to private secondary school. The owners of these primary academies should also develop high school academies. Remember, the “true” national schools were built with public funds from very poor parents. Those of us who went there are today’s middle class. The thing is, the middle class has transitioned from that poverty but refuses to pay the associated costs by “clinging” to public assets because the developers of primary academies have so far shirked the social duty of availing opportunities in similar high schools for their products. You might be surprised to know (anecdotally, since I don’t have empirical data) that the student from Wajir who scores 300 KCPE marks does often beat the one from Nairobi who scored 440 marks when they meet at Alliance! What the government is doing is good public policy: education is a primary socioeconomic transformational tool, and the beginning is affording a child an opportunity which the economic fortunes of their parents might have denied them because they could not access private primary school. At the point of graduating from high school, the equalisation with the privileged child is a compelling social goal. That way, we move towards a more perfect union of disparate economic classes that is less unequal and more socially cohesive. Kihungi its wealth. It will grant a man all the money in the world, but give him a cheating or nagging wife, or both. It will make a man broke and give him a wife who makes him feel like a millionaire even when he comes home with only Sh100 at the end of a working day. We are told we make our own choices about the paths that life hands us in every situation, and it is up to us to pick the path. The more I think about what money makes us do or not do, the more I believe this…or maybe life really does have the remote control of our lives. How is it that people who seem B to be doing well financially are the hardest to satisfy? Is it because roke and healthy. Rich but ailing. Broke and happy. Rich but miserable. Life has a way of distributing spending enough time with the family, making everyone happy. Human beings are meant to be happy, but only at the cost of ambition. Yes, the secret to being happy is to have no ambition. If you can feed your family, clothe them, put a roof over their heads and educate your kids, congratulate yourself; you should be one of the happiest people on earth. The minute people start thinking about the car they want to buy, the house they want to start building, the land they want to acquire, they are inviting stress. But stress and happiness don’t go together. Do not get me wrong, we all want to live a better life and, unfortunately, it has been drummed into us that happiness is synonymous with wealth (even with all the evidence to the contrary). What is wrong is making the amount of money you have the determinant of In pursuit of happiness, we go ballistic when a deal does not work out. We get moody when we cannot afford a bigger car. We neglect our families because we have to work long hours. they know the satisfaction that comes with material achievement, so they are always looking for the next mountain to climb, the next big high? If that is true, it would mean the poorer amongst us are so used to failure they see it as part of life and easily get satisfied with the little they have. The cleverer amongst the latter lot stop thinking about material achievement and concentrate on spiritual achievement, otherwise known as being happy. I bet people who already have these pseudo-scientists? Do they even read? comprehensive form of knowledge, in contrast to more common uses of the word “theory” that imply that something is unproven or speculative (which is better defined by the word ‘hypothesis’). Scientific theories are distinguished from hypotheses, which are individual empirically testable conjectures; and scientific laws, which are descriptive accounts of how nature will behave under certain conditions. Why is it that people who do not understand science, who cannot be bothered to read a science book, feel that they can answer or comment on sciencebased topics? Are these the people who will produce the next generation of scientists? That a person can say there is no of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins. When someone claims that mutations and adaptations are “micro” evolution, they clearly do not understand what causes the change of physical characteristics in organisms. People like the respondents to your article observable “macro” evolution while commenting on ‘“micro” evolution shows the level of misinformation in our society. Evolution is “the change in the inherited characteristics of biological populations over successive generations”. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level need to stop thinking of science as mystical and stop using pseudo-science to back their claims. In all, the essence to the claim that evolution is statistically improbable is based on the assertion that the world is 6,000 years old! Really? I feel we are failing in our education system. Gatonye Ng’ang’a cars are the ones who are always looking to buy a car, a better car, a bigger one. Homeowners are always looking to acquire more property. They know it is all do-able, and they want to do it again, and again. I am yet to hear anyone who has had enough money – even people who retire early do not do so because they have had it with making money, they retire because they have a investment that makes them money whether they work or not. Ever wondered who is richer between a person who lives in an up-market area and pays rent in tens of thousands, drives a 4x4, goes out to expensive lounges twice a week, goes out of town once a week, and earns about Sh300,000, and a man who walks five kilometres to work, earns Sh500 a day, lives in a Sh4,000 rented house, only goes to Uhuru Park on Sundays with his family as a treat? I have wondered, and I think the latter group is happier by default. For one, people do not go to lounges with their children, but they can go to Uhuru Park with them. Easy to tell who is your mood, making money the measure of achievement. Achievement is not just about money, achievement is diverse; it is accomplishment, a realisation. Where humans have gone wrong is thinking achievement is just financial; while money is important (it is pretty hard to be happy when your children are starving and wearing torn clothes), too much money is the poison drop to our happiness. In pursuit of happiness, we go ballistic when a deal does not work out. We get moody when we cannot afford a bigger car. We neglect our families because we have to work long hours. We get obsessed about the lifestyle of the Joneses next door – we want what they have, nay, more. So here is the trick to being happy. If you have clothes, are debt-free, eat well (that does not mean in expensive restaurants, it means a balanced diet), if your children are in school, relax. Do your best to achieve financial success, but do not lose sleep over things you can do nothing about. Choose a job you love (where applicable), a job you are good at, rather than the one that pays most. If you can afford to save for a rainy day (for instance would your savings sustain your current lifestyle if you lost your job and did not get another job for six months), you are good. If your envy towards your neighbour gets too much, imagine the car they are driving is about to be repossessed by the bank because they cannot afford the monthly loan repayments. Easy! Have a happy week.
February 9th 2014
February 11th 2014