Opinion

Mbugua Says Banning of School Tuition Was a Scheme to Keep the Poor Poorer

When tuition was banned, most parents and their children celebrated because they thought it was good riddance of ‘menacing’ teachers, Writes Mike Mbugua G (Pictured).

They even thought they had succeeded in stopping teachers from getting rich off their pockets. What they didn’t know is that it was a scheme by the elite to maintain their status quo.

You may want to label this a conspiracy theory, but before you do that, allow me to share with you some facts. And for the avoidance of doubt, I am speaking from a point of knowledge. I know what I am talking about.

Do I need to tell you that I am a teacher? Well. Here are the facts below.

Holiday tuition goes on as usual; for the children of the elite; at the comfort of their homes; at premium charges; for their educational benefit; and monetary benefit of the well-connected teachers; while the children of the poor watch television all day.

Forget about the arrests that you see on television, of teachers being dragged into police vehicles, once every holiday.

That is just a tip of the iceberg. And that is only, in cases, where organized tuition takes place.

Mostly, holiday tuition takes place in teachers’ homes or the students’ homes, and normally consists of 1 to 5 students.

It is always a lucrative business for the teachers because the parents involved are wealthy, and given the risk involved, on the part of the teacher, the premiums are normally high.

It is common knowledge that risky ventures yield biggest. In most cases, you will find more than one teacher, attending to the students in shifts, depending on the number of subjects being taught.

These wealthy parents pay for holiday tuition for a number of reasons. First, they want their kids to score quality grades.

Secondly, they want them occupied since they are unable to keep them under control, and thirdly, they are not creative in parenting despite the creativity in wealth accumulation.

If I was a parent and had enough money, I would enroll my children for talent development classes like music, dancing, foreign language, martial arts or involve them in my work if it allows.

I am not a parent as yet so I could be idealistic in my thinking, but it is an undeniable fact that parenting in 21st century requires creativity and thinking out of the box.

Such arrangements of hiring teachers to provide lessons at home or attending talent development classes (which are rare and unavailable on most places) are out of reach for the parents who are struggling financially, and who form the largest group.

And this is the group of parents who celebrated when holiday tuition was banned. What they do, now, is leaving for work very early in the morning, return very late, exhausted and frustrated.

Their kids are left at home at the mercy of their house helps and fate (a typical example of gambling with parenting).

They spent all day watching television, having orgies in the neighborhoods, disguised as birthday parties, and roaming the streets aimlessly. And then you wonder, why the dismal performance.

In an article dated April 25, 2017 appearing on a local daily, Kennedy Buhere wrote; “Students have legitimate interests outside education, interests which are connected with their emotional and physical, personality and spiritual growth. Holiday breaks give them an opportunity to indulge in these interests and hobbies.”

But he fails to tell us who are responsible for providing a platform and structure for students to exercise these other interests outside of education, and whether the poor parents can afford.

Expecting our students to exercise those other interests unsupervised and without facilitation, is being naïve.

To all of us who have been through the 8.4.4 system, we know that it is exam oriented up to the University, and for the average student to perform, studying has to be a continuous process.

The moment you take a break of four weeks with minimal study or none at all then failure is inevitable-two weeks break is reasonable, two months is a disaster.

This is amplified by the fact that our learning in school does not allow for deep assimilation of information.

The learning process is normally a hurried up activity of 40 minutes to complete the syllabus.

Holidays are supposed to provide an opportunity for students to ruminate on what was learnt through revision, or early coverage of the syllabus followed by thorough revision.

I might sound like an advocate of the holiday tuition and the 8.4.4 system-No! It is a choice between two evils: holiday tuition organized by your school or idling at home, while the kids of the elite are learning.

Now, the reason why the poor will continue becoming poorer is because education provides a measure of leverage between the rich and the poor, for most people, and without it they are likely to remain poor.

Forget about the hype on entrepreneurship. Tell me how many of you from modest and poor families could become successful business people straight from high school?

Could you have become what you are now without going through tertiary education?

Without proper holiday tuition most kids from modest families are unable to score quality grades to secure for them vacancies for lucrative courses through government sponsorship.

When kids from wealthy families don’t score quality grades to secure for them a vacancy through government sponsorship, their parents pay for them in private universities or self-sponsored programmes.

How many of your parents can afford such without selling their lifetime investments or doing Harambees?

Don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting that holiday tuition is responsible for dismal performance, neither is the solution, but I believe schools should be at liberty to organize holiday tuition (in agreement with parents) at affordable costs, and properly supervised by the PTA to ensure quality and that students get what they deserve.

Having organized tuition in schools would give kids from poor and modest families an opportunity to stay engaged and also to learn at affordable cost.

When holiday tuition is banned, it only remains banned to the poor parents who cannot afford to hire teachers to attend to their children at the comfort of their homes.

Furthermore, in big schools where the students of the elite are, internal tuition takes place in the mornings and evenings, and the parents pay for it in the name of motivation fee.

So as the children of the rich improve their performance to secure places in National schools and high profile courses in Universities, the children of the poor engage in non-productive activities that results to dismal performance, early pregnancy, among others.

Banning of holiday tuition was a strategy to keep the poor ignorant and poor. In the information age, that we live in, knowledge is a tool of production, and it is those who possess tools of production or controls those who possess them that create wealth.

The only tool of production that the children of the poor have a chance on is knowledge, and the elite know this, and the first thing they do is ensuring education provided to the masses is of low quality and irrelevant.

Then they deny the children of the poor access to it for three months in a year, excluding weekends. Students don’t need long breaks from continuous learning.

They need to learn at every opportunity. Holiday tuition organized by schools and funded by parents provides room for continuous learning for both the children of the poor and the elite.

Mike Mbugua G is a teacher at Kajabe Boys High School.

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