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Education for all

Five bloggers, five countries, one dialogue

23 years later – educated, schooled or learned?

After almost 23 years of being in school, you would think that one has had enough education to last the rest of their lifetime (considering that average lifespan is about 60 years on this side of the globe).  Well, for many this is usually just the beginning. This was also the case for me.  Let me explain…

Every journey starts with one step

The system of education that exists now – if nothing changes overnight – is the 8-4-4 system. This means 8 years in primary school, 4 years in high school and another 4 years in the university.  Of course, this does not include kindergarten or nursery school, which, in my opinion, is the most important stage of school.  Before embarking on any subsequent stage after primary school, one has to take a national exam. Afterwards, depending on one’s grades and on a board of examination authorities, one can move on to the next level.

I sailed through all of the levels, and entry into university came sort of abruptly. Suddenly I was an adult. Time to move away from strict parents and teachers and away from home. I could smell freedom.

The only big challenge: I was going to study something that I did not choose, a course I did not like, and, at that time, I could not change the situation much. That is because there was and still is limited space for different faculties. In addition, the B+ grade that I had gotten was not enough to do either the dentistry course or the information science course I had chosen. Accepting what had been handed to me, I went ahead to do an education course in German and special education. When I got to the university, I found out that there were many of us in the same boat. This is the fate of thousands of young Kenyans who attend university and start to study something that they really do not want to.

What's education all about?

Paper chase

Eventually I had the chance to do what I really wanted to do – media and communications. On the brighter side, though, I studied it at the master level, which may not have been possible had I studied it at the bachelor level. Still, the job market has become immensely competitive. It is increasingly difficult to get a job even with a master’s degree. What this may mean is that those who cannot afford even basic education are disadvantaged, and, secondly, it has become a race for papers!

So is education just about papers? What is education? For some, it is just about a piece of paper. For others, it’s a basic human right, a key that will unlock their potential. But for others still, it is a dream. This will be one of the questions I would like to discuss about in the run-up to the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum on education and culture.


May 5, 2012 | 1:22 pm