Let me start with a disclaimer. The author of this article is not a parent, simply a product of one. However I am a teacher and have been a student. Since learning never stops we can safely say we are all teachers and students in our own ways.
Be that as it may, I can only imagine the pain a parent goes through when they send a child to school only to be contacted and informed of the untimely (don’t you just hate the use of the word as if there is anything like timely death?) death of your little one.
I was shocked by the news from Uganda about a three year old girl who drowned in a swimming pool on her first day at school. In this era of social media, the first day at school comes with so much fanfare you are sure to see lots of pictures uploaded on Facebook soon after Daddy or Mummy has dropped Junior to school.
Now imagine the pain that Mr and Mrs. Barasa must be going through now that their little girl, Sunshine Barasa, is no more. The big questions are already being asked, where was the lifeguard who was supposed to rescue little Sunshine?
Remember this happened at an international school, the kind where parents often pay huge sums of money so their children can access quality education and top end facilities such as swimming pools. Aren’t the huge school dues supposed to ensure that children’s safety is paramount?
As we pray for the bereaved family we need to think about the schools where we take our children. It is one thing to want your child to learn how to swim at three and another to be certain of their safety while at it. At such a tender age, if a child is to learn how to swim then it ought to be with a professional swimming coach not just someone hired by a school that is trying to boost its profile with a swimming pool.
In Kenya, a number of students were burnt to death when their school caught fire and the guards refused locals from coming in to help since the children were illegally being kept and taught at school at a time they were supposed to be at home on holiday.
Holidays were designed for a purpose and so teachers as well as parents ought to respect them and ensure that children get the rest they need. The Kenyan tragedy happened just at the same time when the Education Minister had been in the media pointing out that holiday tuition was against the law.
The pressure to pass examinations is really driving little children into cramming machines. They attend school for a whole term complete with daily homework or long night and morning prep then at the end of the day when they are supposed to be resting we still think they need to spend the holiday doing more studying.
Still in Kenya, the school term began on September 3 with teachers staying away from the classrooms in yet another strike where they allege that government did not come good on its promise to increase their salaries. I am not here to defend teachers but while following this story one teacher said something that stuck in my head. He said, “An injustice to a teacher is an injustice to a student”.
In other words, each time teachers’ concerns are ignored we are indirectly ignoring the concerns of the students as well. For there is no way a teacher will apply themselves to the job when they last saw a pay check four months back. And believe me we have schools with teachers in this kind of situation. All these sad issues require us to do a lot of thinking if things are to improve eventually.