Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Being the Best, the Top, the First

Yesterday, the minister for education performed the annual ritual of announcing the best and the first among the top in KCPE. The very first exam that Kenyan children will use to determine their social status as adults. It showed like it always does just how competitive getting  the national cake is  becoming. Kids are working harder and smarter and the winner doesn't have much room. This time the top spot was occupied by two boys as was most other spots. In fact only 3 marks separate the very best and the the tenth kid! These kids have now been set on the path we all have traveled. That of fighting hard and smart for the little and diminishing world resources.

I hope though that they wont get into our madness of competition. Seemingly in this country people compete for everything from the great to the utterly mundane. Like on the road where drivers fight  to be ahead whether they have right of way or not. All you have to do is force your bonnet ahead and block anyone else. Or the competition for entry into a packed football stadium.

Some other competition which I found bizarre was when census results were declared and people from various places started complaining that their numbers were not as suggested. They declared the census biased (or political as they say) Indeed  our leaders often amuse me though when two aspects of competition are up. On the one hand they want their 'regions' to be declared among the wealthiest, with good education, infrastructure, health care etc because it shows the great leadership they have shown and provided for those areas. But on the other hand being declared thus means you get allocated less money for development, so the leaders go back to the press to state that their regions are the poorest etc. Its all about being the first and the top. Being the richest and poorest in equal measure!

But are the top guys having it nice and easy? A friend of mine who is a medical doctor by training and profession has decided to change her career because she says its a lie. She doesn't get the money and privilege she was promised. She had worked had , missed her holidays, play and party times to get the grades to first attend an 'ivy' league high school and then after take medicine in the university. Right now she says her age mates who took less prestigious courses are way ahead of her since for a medical doctor you need some more years of practice and more reading before money starts to know your GPS coordinate. well maybe her decision is also guided by the fact that she is a generation Y.

But thinking differently, I have always wanted to meet someone who attended St. Andrews Turi or anyone who took his kids there. If for nothing, just to satisfy a curiosity since I thought the school was ridiculously expensive. Well this past Saturday I did meet someone. A very kawaida someone! In fact we had a kawaida lunch at Galitos and he is not sending one kid there but 4 kids. They pay just about 0.5m per term per child aside from other requirements which go with your kids schooling in such an environment. And if going for an excursion in hells gate Naivasha was a game changer for me in high school, then for them its the grand canyon in the US! But then again they told me in Pembroke school, during visiting days, instead of top of the range four wheelers packed around the compound, its choppers of the parents who mostly reside at the coast. How is that for being at the top of the social stratum?

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