Let Children Be Children
When the news headlines are flashed with the saga of teen suicide, Kenya must start to think of what is driving these young minds to such extremities. It raises questions about how we bring up our children. The environment in which our children live, play, go to school and draw models for their future life, seems to be exerting massive and overpowering pressure.
In Kenya it is a common site to see children as young as five year olds going to school at six in the morning. And still in Kenya, it is also common place to find ten year olds in class at 6 am or even earlier. Their older counterparts can be found in class at 5 am or earlier, common in upper primary and secondary schools. This means that children go to school for over 12 hours a day, most of the time leaving them with no time to play or relax or even the most basic of all child needs sleep! I fact some schools have been spotted to have no extracurricular activities properly planned for in their schedule. Some of these schools lack even space for children’s play ground.
Our schools are becoming 24 hour enterprises where children’s heads are buried in books and school teachers reaping excellent grades that are turned into advertisement for schools hoping to attract elite talented children from well off backgrounds. The education system having been liberalized and opened up for privatization has sparked aggressive intellectual competition that drives children to seek only examination success above all other.
There is evidence seen in increasing cases of exam fraud, increasing despair among children labeled as exam failures and now at its worst teenage suicide in class eight leavers. Class eight leavers are children still tender and needing in guidance. At this stage, these children are beginning to usher in adulthood in their lives; they are transiting from primary school to secondary school. It is also the age when adolescents tend to be in the crossroads between adulthood and childhood.
The children need more caring, understanding, attention and encouragement. It is only this blend of caring attitude from adults that can drive these children to a future we will all admire. This work is not the sole responsibility of teachers as it has been the norm in Kenya. Parents and especially family members need to give moral support to children. Allow children be children, lets us not initiate them into adulthood by making them work overtime, even if it is academic work. The pressures of adult life when levered upon children leave them with no room to grow up. We end up destroying the bud of child that would rather have matured to a fruit to preserve our future generations.