Machogu must get out of Jogoo House and work
Twice in four months, some opinion polls have ranked Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu as the second most performing minister after Prof Kithure Kindiki of the Interior and National Government Administration docket.
That is a feat I will not want to scoop from the in-tray on Machogu’s office desk, for if visibility is a consideration to be measured alongside hard work, then the former provincial administrator has his place reserved in the basket of kudos at the moment. However, the jury is still out there.
Nevertheless, it would appear that I was too quick to pat the minister on his back when two months ago, I applauded him for pronouncing himself on the stipulated class time for primary and secondary schools.
Said Machogu: “It is clearly stipulated in the curriculum that learning begins at 8am and ends at 3:45pm. We are subjecting our learners to unnecessary struggles by waking them up at 4am to attend lessons in schools at 6am.”
It was against that background that I congratulated Machogu for picking out a salient component of the school curriculum which those he succeeded had failed to look into.
Unfortunately, Machogu’s order has been ignored. He himself has not followed it up. As Machogu stated, the learner is still subjected to very agonising experiences.
But this is not the only beef I have with Machogu. So many seamy events have taken place in the education sector within the past three weeks that place the Cabinet Secretary in a quandary, begging the question as to whether he is fully in charge.
In only a fortnight, four students and a teacher at Mukumu Girls High School in Kakamega have lost their lives while more than 600 learners have been treated of what the Ministry of Health still refers to as “unknown disease” in horrifying circumstances that the Ministry of Education has yet to fully pronounce itself on, only issuing intermittent statements that only help to extinguish hope from the already traumatised families who lost their loved ones and leave the public even more confused.
Within the same period, two other schools have been closed owing to health fears while another has been shut down due to suspected cases of lesbianism. In Kisii, teachers are reported to have gang-caned a student, causing him bodily harm while in Sulungai Secondary School of Kakamega, chaos erupted when a deputy principal denied a learner food for two days.
In all the incidents, Machogu’s voice and presence have been subtle or missing altogether. He belatedly showed up at Mukumu last Saturday to announce the dissolution of the school board and transfer of its principal. What comes out is a situation where Machogu is likely spending most of his time on the desk at Jogoo House instead of venturing out in the field to confront the myriad problems there, most of which he is likely not to be in the know of. His ministry has so many challenges on its plate and the minister cannot afford to devote his time and energy on fiddle-faddle at the headquarters Nero-style while his presence and directions are required in the field.
The ministry has a mountain of challenges associated with the Competency-Based Curriculum, cheating in examinations and Junior Secondary School transition.
We should not allow a situation where systems are created to make learners hate education. Education should not be made to look as if it is a punishment to Kenyans. The honeymoon is over. Machogu has to ensure the directives he gives are implemented to the letter. He should not wait for students to die in schools for him to show his face there.
- The author is the Revise Editor with the People Daily — [email protected]