The Kenyan ministry of education will release the results of this year’s Kenyan Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam. At the end of primary school all students sit the national exam to determine which high schools they will attend.
For the first time, in the announcement will be ranked by Kenya’s 47 counties. In the past wealthier and more urban areas of the country have done better than poorer rural areas. For many critics the current education system in Kenya serves little more than replicate the existing class structure – with wealthier kids doing better in primary school, going to better high schools and then getting subsidized university education. Most poor students – the vast majority of KCPE candidates – never make it beyond high school.
As a former prefect at Mang’u High School, I know quite a bit about the excesses of the prefect system. To put it mildly, prefects sometimes do go beyond the line. I am therefore glad that a student forum at Bomas, Nairobi voted for the establishment of elected student councils to replace prefect bodies. In most schools prefects are appointed by the school administration (usually a small group comprising the principal, his assistant, the dean, the discipline master and a few other teachers). Instituting elected student bodies will go a long way in democratizing Kenyan high schools. I will go out on a limb and even make the claim that it might help Kenyan democracy in the long-run by teaching our students a few things about civic duty and peaceful competition for elected office. Additionally, inculcating in students the virtues of peaceful political competition at an early age might help reduce cases of violence in elections for student body representatives at Kenyan universities.