Dr S.J. Cookey, then-director of the education division at the Commonwealth Secretariat, said: “It is not enough for our schools to train the individual as an individual; he should be trained as a member of the community and of a nation; he should be trained as a citizen.”
One may wonder why the Ministry of Education wants all the 2018 KCPE candidates to join secondary school. Indeed, an MP asked why the government and households should spend resources on educating in high school a child who scored 100 marks in KCPE.
But underlying the 100 per cent transition from primary to secondary education are strong reasoning and obligations the State has to all its citizens.
First, it is grounded in the Constitution, which requires the government to provide free and compulsory basic education for all children.
It is the peculiar function of basic education — elementary and secondary education — to prepare children for the future; to develop the child for adulthood.
One cannot optimally discharge his duties and responsibilities as productive member of the society without knowledge, skills and appropriate attitudes and values.
“Basic education begins to unlock potential, but it is secondary education that provides the wings for girls to be able to fly,” Ms Malala Yousafzai, the youngest-ever Nobel Prize Laureate, observed.
What is valid for girls concerning basic education is equally valid for boys.
A proper vision of education is all-inclusive. It looks at education as a public and not private good. It develops and shapes the intellect and character of children, which are seen as central to a prosperous or flourishing society. And it must open doors to all children, at public expense, to 12 years of basic education to this effect.
And it is not simply intellectual or cognitive ability that general education shapes but also their attitudes, values and habits.
In 1968, then-Minister for Education J.G. Kiano observed at the Second Conference on Teacher Education thus: “Our pupils…must be trained to acquire positive approaches and attitudes as well as inquiring minds which will enable them to adjust themselves in our ever-changing world.”
Classical and contemporary political philosophers and economists see basic education as a public good which the State should underwrite. I have in mind Plato, Aristotle, Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Adam Smith and Milton Friedman and Amartya Sen and other great minds.
According to “EFA Monitoring Report 2012” by Unesco, lower secondary school extends and consolidates the basic skills learnt in primary school while upper secondary school deepens general education and adds technical and vocational skills.
Finally, an educated citizenry with a minimum of secondary education also creates a pool of talents, abilities and skills.
Kennedy Buhere, communications officer, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.