Why Kenya’s middle class loves public high schools

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Kenya’s middle class feels the most aggrieved and is complaining the loudest over the few spaces reserved for students from private schools, popularly called academies. Why are they so bitter and are they justified?


The upper class is quiet because their children may not need these public schools — they have their own schools, which may offer a different curriculum. They probably long gave up on public education because of its poor reputation and because they have a choice. The hoi polloi have no choice.


Back to the middle class. Their anger has many sources.


One, they feel they pay taxes and maintain these prestigious public schools, and by extension, their children should be admitted to them. That is true to some extent because the salaries for teachers and other workers come from their taxes.


Affirmative action

The biggest source of their anger is that most grew up in the age of meritocracy, when the brightest got the best jobs and best schools. They find it hard to understand how things like affirmative action can replace merit.


The high fees they paid in academies was an investment: they would get dividends through paying less in public secondary schools.


There are also too few good secondary schools in Kenya, particularly private ones. This shortage raises the ‘price’ of good schools, not just monetarily, but also psychologically. It feels great to be among the chosen few to get into such institutions.


The other source of anger is that the middle class, like the upper class, loves to replicate itself. And going to the best schools is one way of replicating oneself. There is something sentimental about taking your child to your alma mater.


A factor rarely talked about is that middle class parents know from their own upbringing and schooling that public secondary school experience is one of the greatest assets in life.


They know, but rarely discuss it out loud, that the pampering in private schools is not good for one’s success after school. They learnt in their own lives that one could be a better swimmer by learning to swim in the deep end.


Public schools teach us to be frugal, take nothing for granted and be risk takers. That is closer to real life than the attention and care children get in private schools. Please Read More At: https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/business/article/2000151155/why-kenya-s-middle-class-loves-public-high-schools


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