Friday, January 18, 2008

A Father's Pride


Oh, how I feel this man's joy. Brenda Kiconco just passed with high honors her Primary Leaving Examinations, PLEs as they are known in former British colonies in East Africa. She scored a 4 in all 4 subjects Math, Science, Social studies and English. A distinction is 1 and a failure is a 9 and the rest are in between.

PLEs are the most important exam in this system of education because they map out your academic future. The grade you get determines whether you go to a first rate secondary school or a third world school meaning you will not get very far in life. These exams are taken at the end of one's primary schooling which happens to be at around age 12. At that point you are tested on everything you have been taught since you were 6. An unfair system in a way, because the kids are under such intense pressure to get it right the first time.

(On my part I was severely sick from a drug resistant malaria the whole year before the exams that happen in the month of November. I was lucky to survive and better yet pass the exams and made it to the top school. A pure miracle! Though not for the nuns that had to deal with me for the next four years.)

After one passes they go to the earned secondary school to do their O levels (ranging between 15-20 subjects) and after 4 years are severely tested again to determine which high school they go to. The high school one goes to ( where one specializes again in about 4 subjects) also determines whether you make it to University or not. In a country that is not wealthy, the only resource people have are their brains, so education is a ride or die matter.

I see Brenda's face and her supportive father and I am over joyed and hopeful for all those kids that made it this year.( She looks too young to be 12 though). She reminds me of kids I was in school with and she has the look of a very brilliant young girl and future leader. I am also guessing she is the top student in the country otherwise she wouldn't have made front page news in the dailies.

She most definitely is going to a top girls school where she will continue to thrive. I am guessing this particular one because she did her primary education in its junior version.

Over all there were surprises this year. The top schools in the country were previously third world schools, and previously unheard of. My own urban Primary that used to be top rated does not appear on the radar instead the village schools have taken over. (My own village was 4th in the country. A far cry from my parents generation when it used to be the #1 consistently).

This however is a good sign that strides in education are being made.

As for the dad, he now has bragging rights for the next 4 years at his local pub. A smart boozer would follow him around for the next month because he will be in a generous mood.

To Brenda Kiconco and all those that made the first grade, CONGRATULATIONS and may you continue to succeed in life.