Kwa Ground Vitu Ni Different a common Kenyan phrase among the youth, which translates matters on the ground are different. The same is the state of most sectors in our government. It is without question that our parliament has perfected the art of lawmaking. In fact among its parliamentary responsibilities, the legislative role outweighs oversight and representation. But even as our parliaments craft these laws, what is to be questioned is how they’re implemented and overseen at the grass-root level.
Overtime our parliaments and ministries have proven to take a back seat on laws and resorted to reactive rather than a proactive approach that has been costly to the citizenry. Lack of proper oversight in implementation has proven the unfathomable power of tragedy in waking the conscience of our parliaments and ministries on crucial matters. As always last-minute stances have been sought through coercive measures such as parliamentary summons, ministerial and presidential directives to back up the many legislations in place.
Recent occurrences in and around the education sector paint a picture of negligent institutions and officers; the death of young Chepng’eno linked to period shamming by a teacher and the tragic accident of the one-storey classroom building at Precious Talents Academy in Dagoretti South that cost the lives of eight, leaving more than 60 learners injured and hundreds with trauma to deal with for the rest of their lives, are instances that could have been solved by simple oversight.
Whereas the parliament, through legislation, in a bid to promote the rights and interests of the child developed the Basic Education Act, 2013, which among many things seeks to provide for accreditation, registration, governance and management of institutions of basic education, many killer schools such as Precious Talents are still in existence a demonstration of widespread noncompliance to minimum set standards for schools.
Offices of the National Education Board, the Education Standards and Quality Assurance Commission, and the County Education Board established by the same Act are unheard of in stopping such schools to operate and to make matters worse confer licenses to the same schools. The fatal accident at Precious Talents Academy as evidently shown was a ticking time bomb waiting to explode and even the relevant ministries, the Education Standards and Quality Assurance Commission, the County Education Board and the area MP John Kiarie despite their knowledge and powers mandated by the constitution made the least effort to diffuse it only to join the rest in mourning.
Amidst blame shifts and finger-pointing and political sideshows by MPs who seemed to be cashing on disasters it is clear that the mere push even from the same members who form the government for the government to intervene, presidential or ministerial directives without proper implementation and oversight is all PR. How many policies and legislation do we need to assure the safety of our school-going children? The ground addresses a great concern for frequented oversight.
For most parents living in informal areas admitting your child in a private school is an ultimate sacrifice which should not be the case in a country that boasts of free primary education. It is also uncalled of for an area with representatives and a spatial plan to lack a public school. It is thus undeniable that our good laws and committee recommendations tabled in parliament can only hold water when they are propelled by proper oversight.
Our parliaments and ministries need to have future-proofed thinking and address the gap in need-based planning especially in education and budgeting recognizing the fact that the present increase in population leads to an increased need for enrollment in public primary schools. There will be less impact in the call for the resignation of the Minister of Education without a clear plan to improve implementation and oversight.
Finally, 16-year-old climate champion, Greta Thunberg, in her address at the United Nations General Assembly highlights the cost of petty negligence and empty words among our leaders and states, “The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you.” This makes perfect sense in light with the pain and loss of young generations because of the mistakes of adults.