Corruption is ripping our country apart day by day. The most hit sector as a result of enormous embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds is the education sector. Education is pretty important in the development of any community. That has been sung time after time since the time the whole Book was written, proclaiming loudly that ‘my people perish because of lack of knowledge’. That gospel has been preached far and wide by former educationists like Horace Mann who is said that ‘education is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance-wheel of the social machinery’. Moving closer home, our African hero, Nelson Mandela threw his weight in rubberstamping the import of education when he said that ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ Our schools have ‘education is the key to success’ as a motto.
However, graft has worked tirelessly to make such sayings remain just words. Our educational institutions are grappling with money scarcity. Students in secondary schools are struggling to sleep comfortably, thanks to large admission numbers and shortage of dormitories. Classes are not enough to accommodate all students. Other students are forced to forfeit their schools of admission owing to lack of school fees. Yet, amidst all these challenges, somebody somewhere, is siphoning public funds. Public money that, if used well will make our students in schools live more comfortably and learn well.
At a time when primary school kids are forced by circumstances to forsake school, because of lack of basics such as food and uniform, somebody somewhere is using a whooping 3 billion shillings to erect a barbed wire dubbed wall to bar Al Shabaab militia from crossing over. At a time when school girls skip classes every month due to lack of sanitary towels, and the fear of being laughed at owing to the lack thereof, somebody is giving tenders to a bankrupt foreign company to build dams. Monies paid even before the buying of the land for construction. Money paid even before the design is made.
While our sisters, brothers and sons and daughters are languishing in poverty in universities and colleges, trying to beat the severity of money7 deficiency, somebody somewhere is siphoning a 5 billion worth of petrol meant for our aviation industry. When comrades are trying to survive without food on campus and colleges to attend classes, millions are being siphoned from the National Youth Service. When these students are forced to drop out of school to make extra coin to push them forward in the forthcoming semesters and years, our ‘honorable’ MP’s are increasing their perks. Even others just go to the house to sleep as long as the sitting, nay, sleeping allowances get in.
Who said that education should be a baptism by fire? Who said that that for one to study all the way up to university, especially in public institutions, they have to bear it all- harsh conditions, poor infrastructure, and so forth? The higher education financer, HELB, allocates quite little money for college and university students, despite high inflation rates in our country. The money given cannot even cover both the tuition fee and push one for a month. Do students have to juggle between the so-called ‘side hustle’ and lectures? Do they have to trade their bodies for a living? Drugs for food? Were things meant to be the way they are? Our leaders must be zapped back to reality.
Why can’t we learn from other civilized nations? Civilizations that really value education treat students and teachers in a far better way. For instance, President George Weah of Liberia declared undergraduate university education free. Is that too hard to do in Kenya, with all the money we have? Nay, it can be done: But if only the lords of impunity and corrupt masters in high places are made to reproduce what they have stolen, and be removed from their positions.
It can be done, it can be done, and it must be done.