The Road of Life: Where Are You Heading to?

road of life

The other day I was driving down this familiar road that appeared entirely new because I had taken long to pass through it. Interestingly, there was nothing much fascinating about it: broken culverts, gaping potholes, and the common drainage issues. However, I do not want to talk about physical roads today. Why don’t we discuss the road of life?

The Enormous Question

What is it that comes to your mind when you hear about the road of life? If you are reading this piece, you must be on a journey that has an ultimate destination with several goals in between.

Alternatively, you could walk through several routes that all converge at the same point. Well, I even don’t know whether the statement above is making sense of itself. But the fact is, eventually you want to be somewhere in life if you are of a sound mind.

Greatness is in all of us

One pure truth about life is that everyone born of a mother under the sun has an inherent desire to be great. And some driven by vice have used crude methods to get to the top. Isn’t it true that some of our political leaders have killed and exiled their rivals and political opponents to get to the top? Well, you may say you fight for power and don’t beg it, but no one has the right to take away life.

One pure truth about life is that everyone born of a mother under the sun has an inherent desire to be great

What’s your view of success/greatness?

If you are still there, I want to partly talk about my experience in the Kenya Education system 8.4.4. Has not education played a major role in shaping our lives? Whether or not you went through it? There must be one or two things you learnt from it.

When I was in primary school, pupils who had done their last exams and left; probably joined national schools would come back visiting. We used to revere them and see them as our heroes because they achieved what we hadn’t.

We viewed them with awe and admiration and imagined the wonderful life they were leading in national schools. Our teachers could celebrate them, telling us to be like so and so.

Oblivious to us, they were also the typical high school students on a journey of life with the core desire to make their lives more meaningful. Back in primary school, as you may want to call it in slang, we imagined an excellent experience, after that, in a prestigious national school. Time went by, and the lucky ones like me (or should someone else be saying this) found ourselves in high school. 

Know things for What they are

We realized high school wasn’t a bed of roses either. Primary was a walkover.  In my case, mine was an excellent performing provincial school whose promotion to a national school was long overdue.

They deemed the school among the best in Western Kenya under the leadership of the head teacher we had nicknamed “Jeshi”. In high school; it was survival for the fittest.

A series of CATS, assignments, and quizzes. We met poor performance with some hard lashes on our sitting apparatus and our teachers would threaten us with repeating classes.

So this is what the heroes we revered in our primary school days went through? The food was not much different from the one we used to consume with relish back in primary school but was better in my opinion.

Failed Expectations

Over time, I watched as guys gave up when things became tough. Some stricter subjects like Mathematics, physics, and chemistry proved to be a tall order for many.

In primary school, for instance, you could gamble with multiple choices and scoop 97/100%. If you have been through the Kenya 8.4.4. In the education system, you must relate to this. 

I wouldn’t want to talk about myself here lest I brag or get biased. Add to the indiscipline cases that bedeviled the crooked ones.

As a high school student, the word expulsion or getting expelled was so dreary that thinking about it would send chills down my spine. Actually, to a high school student, it was like your life had come to an abrupt end.

While going home after getting expelled or suspended, you needed to think hard to fabricate lies that you would use to convince your parents why you were out of school or otherwise your goose would be cooked.

And what were the villagers expected to think of you? After hearing the son of so and so joined high school and is now passing the time at home.

A considerable number of guys we schooled with in primary school got expelled or suspended indefinitely for many indiscipline cases.

The lucky ones would get suspended for two weeks, get back, and write course notes on end for classes they missed. However, the worst would await them.

If students had done any exams during their suspension period, it means they would rank bottom, and “Jeshi” would shame them during the academic parade.

In the wildest of our dreams back in primary school, this is not the life we had dreamt of or envisioned.

The Good Memories

On the flip side, there was the fun part of it. Graduating from putting on shorts to trousers. Writing letters to girls and interacting with them. Entertainment on weekends and abrupt changes with something delicious on the menu.

Also not forgetting games, Mathematics contests, Science Congress, Drama and music fests, and the many other co-curricular events. 

In high school, we had the revered visitors who could stop by for their teaching practice. Talking of an AGM, a complete bull would go down for parents’ lunch. The dining hall would instantly become a no-go zone for students.

Source of Hope

Among the revered visitors were the old boys who would motivate us to work hard. We would find great relief in listening to them, not because they were talented speakers but because they had gone through the system.

In them, we found the hope to join University via the government program then referred to as JAB–Joint Admissions Board today known as KUCCPS.

We also saw superheroes, role models, and guys who were already making it. To us, these were making it on the road of life. Looking back, I imagine the life struggles they also faced even though they appeared heroes in our sight.

Now, I had this fairy picture of a university. I imagined a place where young adults were well-behaved, disciplined, focused, go-getters, and all the positive words you can think of.

Well, but wait till you visit the washrooms. Hahahah. Wait till you go for student elections! People would get stupid, forget about ideologies and primitively go tribal.

Add to the injury the many tribal associations that still exist within our campuses. Ooh! Kitwek Student Association! What for!!? Students would speak vernacular in some of these meetings. I thought we derive the name university from the adverb universal. Don’t we

Logically, this would be expected regarding student elections. Weren’t their sponsors the same tribal kingpins we see in parliament buildings?

A friend once mentioned how University thwarted his expectations.

To him, the university was a citadel of research, a place guys were immersed in research on several topics. Shockingly for him, it was an endless journey of lectures, the same handouts, and exams.

The White Lie

Talking from the eyes of a Kenyan graduate University wasn’t a walk in the park as our high school teachers would want us to believe.

If you burned your Chemistry book after your final exam imagining Chemistry was over, you would be in for a rude shock. Science-based courses still had elements of Chemistry and biology in the first year. 

On campus, freedom was at its peak, and you had to learn discipline, manage your time, money, and foodstuffs.

Come the exam time and people would read and study like there was no tomorrow. Even the best of jokers would seclude themselves and get down to business.

Apparently, at every stage of life, the Darwinian theory of selection applies.  By the fourth year, some chaps we began with were missing for myriad reasons. A proof to the fact that every stage in the road of life had lessons to offer.

Some reasons, such as having no school fees, were rather pathetic. However, cases of indiscipline, missing classes on end and getting pregnant along the way would make life difficult for many.

The Situation as it is

Four years down the line and everyone was out again, and we get to mingle through social media and WhatsApp groups.

Some came out married, others engaged, and some marriage was a distant dream far away. Still, when joining, others came from the North but left going South in search of greener pastures.

Others lingered on for a while, perhaps waiting for a sign from God knows where.

For those who were partly students and partly engaged in businesses, it was merely a matter of transitioning from being a part-time student to a full-time business.

To them, education was a tool for relevancy, but they appeared to have their lives figured out already.

As of writing this, it’s another four years since campus. Time seems to have moved fast but with minor changes.

Young families are still coming up. Some saw the need to advance their education, and they got back to it again. Interestingly, a few chaps who were rather unheard of have taken the world by storm.

They now driving gigantic machines and living a life that would only amount to wishes and dreams at our age.

You would think because of them living large, they would be quick to lift and support others. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Success is a process. You get to apply for jobs and not even get a regret email. You try business it somehow cannot see the end of the year. You try relationships; you get some rough rides before a soft landing.

You would think because of them living large, they would be quick to lift and support others down the ladder. But nothing could be further from the truth. Success is a process. You get to apply for jobs and not even get a regret email. You try business it somehow cannot see the end of the year. You try relationships; you get some rough rides before a soft landing.

Now to somebody who has achieved some sense of significance without going through breaking a sweat, the need or the heart to help may not even exist.

Some who had relatives and friends in prominent places knew they have well cut out their road of life only for matters to take a downward spiral.

The Big Questions

Essentially, the big questions to ask ourselves is where are we walking to on this road of life. Why all the toil and sacrifice? Is it worth it? Is there a crown awaiting you at the other end of the tunnel?

Is it to disapprove of people who never believed in you or what fuels you to keep walking? What meaning or significance are you looking for in life? At the end of your journey, what do you want people to remember you for?

That you paid school fees for orphans or built and lived in the most expensive house? Let me know in the comments below.

Bottom Line

Strictly speaking, however much you may think someone is living the best of life, things could differ from reality. As I wrap this up, it’s more important to know where you are heading to in the road of life than just dragging yourself by.

Advertisements

How to handle your School Going kid during the COVID-19 Holiday

school going kid

School going kids are all over home right now in most countries in the world. And most parents are feeling the heat and cold of having them around. 

The COVID-19 virus struck in China in November 2019. Spread to Europe and the U.S fast developing into a pandemic the world over.

The pandemic has spared none of the anxiety of living in the new normal. Besides, school going kids, businesses, places of worship, bars, and clubs are all feeling the restrictions under COVID-19. 

On the same note, your children are at home right now. And if they were in boarding schools, prepare to keep up with them longer. As their parent, you now have the time to nurture them and discover who they are. 

Lucky for you, most governments the world over have restricted movements. Your school going kids idling around is one problem solved. 

Engage your School going Kid in Home Chores

The current lockdowns and curfews make kids stay home longer. This must be one of the best times to teach your school going kids different chores and roles in the home. 

Mending fences, fixing the pigsty, repairing broken furniture, milking. House and home chores are endless. There is a lot that your school going kid could do during this pandemic. 

Many are the life skills that you could train your children to do and keep them engaged during this pandemic holiday. 

Our kids, given the freedom and spirit of adventure they now possess, will no doubt find their way into impromptu, makeshift drinking orgies. In such cases, correction becomes a vocabulary as everyone turns out to be a reveler that wants to explore unknown things.

Our kids, given the freedom and spirit of adventure they now possess, will no doubt find their way into such impromptu, makeshift drinking orgies. In such cases, correction becomes a vocabulary as everyone turns out to be a reveler that wants to explore new things.

Also, incidences of immorality and our young girls getting unwanted pregnancies are likely to be palpable.

 So to speak, our children need to be engaged in constructive activities this holiday that will add more value to their lives.

Similarly, one most valuable thing you can do to your boy or girl child student is to offer them tutorship or a private teacher who can teach them at home.

Sorry, maybe you expected me to mention a sporting event or tour in Malindi or Fiji Islands with your school going child.

International flights have resumed in different parts of the world. But you want to be more cautious. The pandemic is not ended yet. Children experience fewer to no symptoms though. 

Home Tutorship

It is for this simple reason that as a parent, you would rather chop off part of your festive budget.

This is for guarantying your school going child a thorough home alone understanding of the subjects and coursework already covered in school.

More so, the tutor will be resourceful in preparing your kid for the next coursework coverage when the unfamiliar school term begins.

Though cash draining, putting aside that cash to hire a tutor for your school going kid could just work magic to his or her performance when the next school term begins.

Conclusion

COVID-19 appears to be here for the long haul. Most governments have closed down institution of higher learning.

As a parent, you may have a rough time explaining to your school going kid the fact that they will have to repeat another school year or term.

But more importantly, parents have to ensure they are engaging their kids in meaningful activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Advertisements

My Career My Choice

my career

road-sign-798176_1280
https://pixabay.com/en/road-sign-town-sign-success-career-798176/

Ever since the time you grew up, society conditioned you to view careers on a top to a bottom list; with the top being the best of careers while the bottom taking no credit. Conditioning came through when your parents would suggest a number of careers that appear or sound to be more prestigious; such as careers in medicine, law, economics, and engineering to name a few. Any other career, on the contrary, would not have appealed to them. The above-mentioned careers were considered and are still considered to be prestigious, worthy of honor and of a high social status. Careers in teaching, journalism, anthropology, policing, extension education would have and still brush some students the wrong way with their parents.
One big question I need to ask is; what parameters do you use to gauge or measure the value of a given career? Some measure a career in terms of how much it pays, some take pleasure in titles a career gives, some enjoy a given career because it makes them less of an office worker and more of a nomad worker. Some see the rate of career growth and networking as a factor. My point of concern is what would make a certain career more prestigious than the other? At the end of the day, everybody wants to make a living and make progress in their own individual lives. I am tempted to think social status is what determines the value of a career. No wonder careers in law, medicine, and engineering are highly placed in societies. This can be undoubtedly proven whenever national examination results are released especially in a country like Kenya. The top candidates that usually emerge in Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examinations when interviewed over electronic and print media will proudly mention medicine, law or engineering as their dream career. Interestingly enough, no single candidate has ever been heard mentioning a career in agriculture, journalism, education and the like; notwithstanding that agriculture is the backbone of Kenya’s economy, doesn’t Kenya need more of agricultural experts to give technical advice on how to improve food production.

Kenya as a country has a development blueprint dubbed ‘Vision 2030’. It stands on three pillars of Social, Economic, and a Political pillar. My layman understanding is that by 2030, as a country we should be talking about development milestones on the three pillars. One thing you cannot run away from as an educated countryman is the fact that your economy thrives on agriculture, tourism, and industrialization. Methinks society has conditioned many of her offspring’s to view a career in terms of social status and honor rather than the need it can meet. As much as Kenya needs doctors and lawyers as a country, it equally needs agronomists, horticulturists, biologists, data analysts, social workers among other professions. The best of students should not only play the social status card but also try to add value to other well paying, national-building careers.

Sad enough is the fact that some Kenyans will never appreciate certain careers in this country. Careers in Kenya Police especially traffic, Kenya football especially the national team head coach. The head coach of the football national team is never spared either such that however much he tries to work to improve the performance of the national football team a single win among many loses won’t receive a single praise. However much he outshines his previous performance, Kenyans will still have a reason to point a finger.

While our Police force has been a sham ( extra-judicial killings, bribery, ghost police officers, controversial promotions)to the point of attracting the attention of an Independent Police Oversight Committee – IPOA, children should not be allowed to grow up feeling a career in the police force is for the losers in society. On the same knot, a career in football should not be viewed in a bad light by young job seekers. Kenya is no doubt proud of Victor Wanyama the Southampton midfielder who is moving to Tottenham Hotspurs next season for £ 11 million. Though a few of our players have made it to the international football arena, we are not to say that the chances for our players are dim.  I believe our good days in football are yet to come.

Your career is your choice, you know best where your passion lies. I encourage you to live your dream and be the best you were meant to be.

The Gap between Academicians and Practitioners.

Foremost, I want to laud former president of Kenya Mwai Kibaki. Upon taking the reins of power after the general elections of 2002, Kibaki (and his government Narc) forever changed history in the Kenyan education sector.

Millions of Kenyan parents with school-going kids breathed a sigh of relief when Kibaki announced free primary education to millions of school-going children. For sure, that was a milestone in Kenya’s education history. It was a far cry from maziwa ya nyayo.

In that year alone (2003) public primary schools flooded with pupils as enrolment skyrocketed almost to the high heavens. The world was pleased with a nation that was ready to educate it’s children, as such foreign aid was readily granted by the UK government.

Children hungry and thirsty for education couldn’t have been rewarded more. It was a success story, to say the least. However, somewhere along the way cracks started forming on a wall well-built and with so strong a foundation.

It wasn’t long before it was alleged that there were massive misappropriation and embezzlement of funds meant for free primary education by top officials in the education ministry.

It was sad, pathetic and a stab in the back of school-going kids. One of the local dailies then screamed the headlines ‘A tale of two professors’ The then education minister Professor Sam Ongeri and his permanent secretary professor John Ole Kiyiapi was put to task to explain how the money had been misappropriated by education officials.

One other thing as a writer was to later write is the fact that the Narc government never foresaw the danger that loomed ahead. Education facilities in schools and institutions of higher learning became congested and flooded with students thanks to the double intake program.

The double intake program began in 2011, the year I joined University in the month of August. Having sat my Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education in the year 2009, I had selected four and revised the courses I intended to pursue. The exercise had been conducted at the Western education provincial headquarters in Kakamega.

Thereafter, I was to await my admission letter to campus for one year 6months. In the time in between, I engaged myself in tertiary courses like learning Computer packages in addition to running my uncle’s businesses.

At the time I joined university,  a degree took four academic years to be completed which is still the case. Today, unlike the former days, long holidays come after a semester instead of one academic year. This had been announced to us after we had completed our first semester to our consternation.

The main reason given was that there was going to be a double intake and the school could not accommodate a large number of students. Therefore one group ( K.C.S.E candidates 2009) had to go for a long holiday and allow the K.C.S.E candidates 2010 to be enrolled in January 2012.

This happened at the University I was in. There were other scenarios different from mine in other universities. The 2010 candidates were lucky; thanks to the double intake they had not been at home for long waiting for admission to University.

I was highlighting a situation that had been brought about by free primary schooling in Kenya over the years. As I write this, Institutions of high learning  are flooded with students who are under facilitated and with fewer materials, laboratories, libraries and workshops for research and innovation.

Adding insult to injury, lecturers in both public and private universities have been periodically complaining of poor pay forcing some to skive lecture sessions. It was only recent when Moi University, KPA campus students in Eldoret rioted over lecturers not attending lecture sessions when they had payed their school fees in full.

Because of strained resources and large number of students in universities, (five students sharing one computer -case scenario) quality of education and that of graduates is dwindling.

After independence, Kenya only boasted of 8 major universities.  There are now 31 universities registered with the Commission for Higher Education (CHE).

Despite the progress, that number still can’t measure to the large number of students joining University yearly. Amongst universities counted, some are private that only the well-off in society can afford.

Private universities seem to be better equipped and facilitated compared to the public ones.  However, few are the number of students who attend private as compared to public universities.

Employment in Kenya is also becoming a tricky affair in Kenya given the large number of universities holding graduation ceremonies for their graduands every year. Some even holding two graduation ceremonies in a year.

As I write this, I am not employed and I can count the number of my course mates who are employed. Unfortunately, this is a reality, policymakers, in the government were supposed to foresee and create measures that would ensure we accommodate such many students both in government and private sectors where their skills are much needed.

It’s a pity that many are still on the job search with no experience. But lately, there is a ray of hope as employers are beginning to identify potential candidates who can be trained on any skill and perform.

Some care less about the papers and recommendations you carry. This begs the question, how can the government transform its top cream (fresh graduates from universities) from being academicians into practitioners who can solve the present world problems in their area of study.

The government owes its graduates big to make them relevant and practical in their careers. Nevertheless, it should not be forgotten that the government has also played a big role in ensuring that Kenyan students can complete a university education through the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB).

In most graduation ceremonies, graduands are encouraged to be job creators and not only seek jobs.

I believe in creating a job, one needs to possess the relevant skills that will put him /her in a better position to create the job.

But here is a scenario where a half -baked graduate with little exposure; who even securing a superb place for their field industrial attachment wasn’t easy.  This happens because of the large student population expected to be skillful and well oriented upon leaving campus.

The government I believe should link up with private individuals who have set up companies that nurture graduates in their field of interest to help them nurture students from being academicians to practitioners with hands-on experience in solving problems in their field of study.

The chancellor of the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Dr. Mwai Kibaki while addressing students in a recent graduation ceremony at the institution encouraged every stakeholder on board including lecturers, professionals, economists, researchers, policymakers to not only equip students with knowledge.

He further asked them to make graduates a reflection and an accurate picture of the job they are studying for. He encouraged them to make their students also love and enjoy what they do.

The chancellor emphasized that institutions of higher learning are meant to be centers for research and innovation by world-class standards.  Therefore, the government should put more funds into developing institutions of higher learning.