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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Burning schools, burning education

The rising trend of “burning schools” reported in the media in the East African nation of Kenya has drawn attention to government inquiry. However, apart from the massive loss of millions of shilling worth of property lost in bonfires of books and beds there is a disturbingly loud silence of millions of parents with children in schools. Despite the fact that parents are called upon to pay for damaged property, they seem just as wretched as their children in these circumstances. Parents are bewildered as to what to do with their children. Since sending a child to school is, one if not, the most responsible and loving things a parent can do for a child, parents will pay for the rebuilding of the school. However, rebuilding school property will neither prevent them from being burned again nor inspire in a child a new desire to pursue an education. In effect it is not the school that has been set on fire, it is the desire for education that has been burned. While burning school property is an economic question, burning education is a social catastrophe. A book published by this author provides some hard-hitting insight on the relationship between education and leadership, he points out that…

Education systems remove individuals from social responsibility, isolates them in institutions, raises their ambitions and expectations to unrealistic levels, then channels them back into society 20 years later hoping that they will make a healthy social adjustment and take up leadership roles. This does not happen with satisfactory frequency. Perhaps education systems could integrate social responsibility into school programs (rather than complete isolation) to help developing leadership keep in touch with social reality and begin developing solutions (during their education) to address surrounding social needs. This approach would not only ensure that education becomes a social enterprise that continuously interacts and positively impacts the environment, but would also prepare leadership to practically address social concerns and take initiative to make a social contribution upon completion of education. Education is currently institutionalized it perhaps needs to be socialized. – THINKING LEADERSHIP IN AFRICA, 2004

Education is the seedbed of a nations’ leadership quotient. If the tree of education is burned at the roots it is only a matter of time before the fruits of leadership become embers. Schools are merely vehicles that supply leaders and facilitate the establishment of a society. However an education system that does not serve the interests of society will be as useless as an eyesore of the charred remains of a burned school.

Allan Bukusi

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