Parents whose children sat for the 2021 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) are now waiting with bated breath to know the secondary schools that will host their children for the next four academic years.
This is a matter that is given critical consideration because of the deep-seated perceptions people have about the performance of schools.
Some parents have minimal understanding of the primary factors they ought to consider.
Most of them only consider academic performance.
Yet, there is more to this than meets the eye.
With crystalline clarity, schools are places for character formation and value addition.
These two factors are anchored on school culture and tradition, which takes time to build.
For this ambit to be realized, the three stones in the heart of a school – teacher, parent and student – must be in perfect agreement.
They should work and walk together.
Just for the purpose of a recent rehash, think of this scenario. When the 2020 KCPE results were out, secondary schools’ placement process started post-haste.
When Pre-Form Ones received the much-awaited admission missives, some parents were chagrined because their children missed their dream schools.
Such parents wished their children would secure chances in schools they perceived to be top-tier.
Yet, some parents forget that places don’t make people, but people make places.
When the structures in crèmes de la crème schools were designed, they were not constructed on lands lush with many acres of diamond.
The Ivy League schools were not constructed using bricks made of gold and diamond.
They were simply built on average land using ordinary building materials.
Then, teachers, students and parents toiled and moiled to make those schools glorious like the sun.
Therefore, when a parent begins racing down like a wounded buffalo, looking for a school of choice instead of waiting for the MoE placements, I find it to be a bit funny and frivolous.
What if, as a parent, you assure your child that you will secure a chance in a particular ‘good’ school, then your frantic efforts fail to bear fruits?
Don’t you think that it is such drama that makes some children fail to settle in school after admission?
This, dear reader, will eventually pose a puissant impact on the child’s academic performance.
It is advisable to remain sane and sober on this matter.
None should attempt to buy an admission slot.
It is still fresh in our mortal memories.
One of the Form one students fanned ferocious flames of fire in a high-end girls’ school.
The Temple of Justice established that the lass razed down a dormitory to express her discontent.
What she did was utterly wrong.
We condemn it with every atom of our strengths, but the episode offers an indelible lesson to all and sundry.
What is the moral? We should take children to schools they have been called to join and cooperate in propping up the school status.
If you avoid some schools because you think they are small, who will make them great?
Consider this: America did not make America, but Americans made America.
Great Americans like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and (my uncle) Barrack Obama; made America cut an imperishable niche in the annals of world history.
Greatness emanates from the inside, not the outside. Seeds of greatness are within us – intrinsic.
They can be expressed anywhere and everywhere.
A lizard in Africa cannot be a crocodile in America.
Parents who become crest-fallen because their children have missed their dream schools should press pause buttons, accept the situation, and help their children understand that, like cacti, their children can blossom anywhere so long as the attitude (mindset plus belief) is correct.
Someone may be swift to say, but penman, environment matters a lot.
Yes, it does. I nod to this notion.
But again, psychologists posit that intelligence is a product of nurture and nature.
Nurture is environment. Nature is heredity.
So, I still hold the view that a child who is mentally set to access success and evince excellence – will do it in any school.
Think of a student called Josaphat Kamau Mwangi.
He was admitted with 278 out of 500 marks at Mioro Secondary School in Murang’a County.
He had the indomitable will to win. When he sat for KCSE in 2018, he scooped an A- (minus).
He was loudly lauded as one of the most improved students in the country.
He is now wrestling with Medicine at the University of Nairobi.
Did you also catch a glimpse of a school called Wei Wei Secondary School?
The school rose to stardom when it churned out one of the finest in KCSE 2009.
This valedictorian generated plenty of attention from members of the fourth estate.
They pitched their tents in this obscure school, specifically on this brilliant student who garnered good grades.
One of the journalists made jest of it when he said: Where there is a will, there is Wei Wei.
The logic here is that young scholars poised to join high school should be prepared to start strong.
Theirs is to begin, learn and win. They should be excited about it: Accept and explore the new environment, think about success, adhere to rules and regulations, choose friends wisely and cultivate helpful study skills.
Without forgetting that there will be a mélange of chilling challenges like a possible change of diet, change of weather, culture shock, many subjects, large classes, different style(s) of teaching, hurdles in handling pocket money, no multiple-choice exams, several assessments and tests, a pre-form one student should have ample preparation for the exhilarating high school experience set ahead.
The writer rolls out Form One Plug-in Programmes in Secondary Schools. He speaks to Teachers, Students and Parents during Induction & Orientation ddays. His contact: email@example.com.