JANCAN LIMO: On Education

Kindly introduce yourself to us

I am Jancan Limo, a trained high school teacher. I transitioned to Elewa Company after 7 years of teaching. Currently, am in charge of relations at the company. Elewa is an education innovation company that support schools in the delivery of quality student-centred, 21st-century education. We believe that education can be meaningful and enjoyable and that it can help people reach their full potential. So as much I transitioned, I still feel I am the teacher I used to be.

So, Mr. Limo, why the transition from high school to the corporate world?

The reason why I transitioned is that I suffered the brutality of our education system twice. Once as a student and second as a teacher. Teachers did not understand how I used to learn. I was never good at listening to long lectures, neither was I good at personal study. I was good at peddling rumours (discussions). As a teacher, I had a lot of content in my head but delivering it to students was a challenge. I never got what I wanted. Not because of lack of passion but lack of skills.

So, according to you, is our education system up to standard? If no, what are the reasons?

Our education system is okay and it was okay. The issue lies in how it is implemented. The same disease that killed 8-4-4 will kill the competency-based curriculum that is currently being rolled out. The intention of the paper and policy is meant to develop a competent student but the implementation is killing a lot of potentials.

How is implementation killing our education? Is it the teachers, students or parents to blame?

The teacher training curriculum is the one that is not preparing teachers adequately for their job. It focuses so much on building an advanced understanding of concepts by the teachers but nothing on specifically how to pass this knowledge to students. So I will blame it on teacher training.

So, what needs to be done in order to improve this?

At the heart of the delivery of quality education is the teacher. A well trained and supported teacher can be the single most important factor in the success of a group of students and the success of any education system and curriculum. We need to invest a lot in building the capacity of teachers to educate and not to pass through the syllabus.

How can we make education enjoyable for both the teachers and the students? What steps can we take?

We need to focus our energy on training and supporting our teachers so that they can make education meaningful and enjoyable. If students find meaning in what they are learning and they enjoy the learning process, we will have achieved the purpose of education.

Just recently, a few courses offered by the universities were deemed useless. What’s your take on that?

It is saddening. It shows how much we have commercialized the building fabric of our society to an extent of offering fake courses. The CUE should come out to clear this issue and ensure a proper career path for those students who have done the courses. It was an investment that we can’t afford to lose.

Teachers receive little pay (especially in private schools) Can we expect them to deliver even on empty stomachs?

Paying teachers well is a necessity but we, at any cost, should not offer substandard education because we are not paid well. Institutions that pay teachers less are the major throwback towards achieving the full potential of a student because teachers’ potential are also not fully utilised.

Is the Mwakenya culture undermining our education?

It is greatly affecting our education as it diverts the mindset of a student towards valuing the results rather than the process of education. This will later be demonstrated at workplaces where people focus so much on what they earn and not on how they earn. The definition of education is the acquisition of positive skills, knowledge, attitudes and values.

Why is teaching looked down as a profession?

Apart from the poor pay, students are made to sit down for hours listening and others doing nothing. If learners are not actively engaged in the learning, they will never enjoy the process and never like to do the same if given opportunity. The amount of work that teachers also do is quite huge. Teachers are blamed for poor performance, indiscipline cases. Who would love to be blamed?

Do you think the education system prepares our students for the world of work? Can your organisation Elewa bridge this gap?

If done right, our education system will be amazing. If we focus on what matters, we will truly prepare our students both for workplaces and entrepreneurship. We, at Elewa, are doing something about what matters. I will repeat that at the heart of the delivery of quality education is the teacher. A well trained and supported teacher can be the single most important factor in the success of a group of students. This is what Elewa focuses on. Prepare teachers to be better at what they do and support them while doing what they do.

What should we do with content we learn, that may not be applicable in real life?

There is a reason why a topic exists in the curriculum and why it was intended to be taught at a given time in school. The problem is that we don’t get the chance to know why we are learning and where will we apply. Also, the way our books are authored, they are not completely making sense. They are not engaging and out of context.

So what is your parting shot, Bw. Limo?

Education can be meaningful and enjoyable. It is high time we stop looking at the tablets and yellow buses and start investing in the people that matter the most. I invite everyone to help in the mission of making education meaningful and enjoyable. You don’t have to be a teacher to be part of the movement. All you need is passion in education and desire to change the narrative of having 70% of our students fail. Let’s join hands.

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