Friday, June 13, 2008

Mis-educating Kimani Maruge

Kimani Maruge, the octogenarian from Eldoret who holds the Guiness Book world record as the oldest primary school pupil, seems to be more of an intriguing trophy to be clutched on by various parties for the attention that he draws. For the four years that the 88 year-old great grandfather has been attending school at Kapkenduiywo Primary, he has been a regular news item in the local and international media without any clear demonstration by any of his handlers of benefits accruing to him educationally. And not until a few days ago did a semblance of social transformation take place when he was transferred to an old people’s home, after four years of shamelessly parading his squalor before world cameras.

“He is an international figure… It is illegal for one to sneak away a pupil just like that!” exclaimed Mrs. Jane Obinchu when she learnt of Maruge’s relocation from Eldoret to Nairobi’s Cheshire Home for the Aged. The relocation was done by the Red Cross Society who said they did so upon the old man’s request.

“It is tantamount to throwing away his education to the dogs,” said the chairman of the Parents and Teachers Association Kapkenduiywo School who also called on the government to “come to our rescue because Maruge had dramatically increased enrollment in the school by inspiring families.”

The ‘outrage’ by the school officials seems suspicious especially having mentioned in their interview with the press that “some well wishers including the Kenya Institute of Management were meeting the cost of his upkeep and so there was no financial problem.” It seems to me that their grumbling is really just about missing out on the funds and favorable publicity that will probably not be forthcoming any longer.

I dare suggest that these school officials have actually been abusing Maruge and ought to be sanctioned for professional misconduct. They cannot pretend to have been teaching Maruge through a curriculum structured for the minds of minors when they are fully aware that there exists an adult education program which is suitably tailored for this kind of learner taking into consideration a mature mental disposition. The language of instruction for Maruge and that of his 9 year-old classmates can never be the same, making his purported lively presence in their classroom a nuisance and potential hindrance to proper assimilation of skills. I highly doubt if any of the teachers at the school have received the extra training requisite for instructing mature learners like Maruge. That the ‘teachers’ have been awarding Maruge high scores in arithmetic and even made him the school’s ‘head-boy’ is most likely not a measure of the old man’s ‘excellence’ but a scandalous display of official deceit.

The UN Global Campaign for Education who arranged for Maruge’s exhibition in the United States last year should visit Kapkenduiywo and organize for counseling of the little kids who may have been traumatized by the old man’s stint in their midst, a trauma now manifesting as the why-have-they-snatched-our-Maruge syndrome.


Osita said...

Call it Spin, Call it PR they cannot all be absolved, hence they are all guilty. The UN, the government, the sponsors and even the schools authority.

He needs a special education and not a primary education. He has no right to be enrolled in the first place; that does not negate his right to education.

We need to get it right. Primary, Adult and Special education are not all the same thing.

HLumiti said...

Yes Osita,

I'm in agreement with you. The old man ought to have been enrolled for an appropriate education. Taking advantage of Maruge to boost the image of the various authorities is inexcusable. None of them should even try to justify this decadent exhibition.

Maua said...

Preach it, they need to know.

The funny thing though, is that they don't even know it's wrong. As long as both parties got 'what they wanted', the repercussions can stay unaddressed.

All the parties need to be educated on the different types of education. This needs to be done soon before others fall victim of 'the high admission rates'.

Ratemo James said...

too bad too sad to hypocrtical for all that participated in reaping from Maruge's confusion and ignorance. It also shows how despicable our adult education scheme is...By the way is the gumbaro still existing?

HLumiti said...

True James, this was despicable exploitation.

And the news hounds are still on Maruge's back. Sadly, when they covered him a few weeks back, he complained that "those who promised me things" have abandoned him.

But they haven't stopped there. They have now pointed their periscopes to Nyamarima Primary School in Nyanza where they hope to exhibit yet another old student. One Christine Auma Otiende, 60 years old.

Our old folks are up for sale!

Sharon Wamalika said...

You don't know what you're talking about coz you never had your studies in Kenya. You even dont know the education structure so why on earth are you criticizing something you have no clue about?? Get a life and let the old man experience his youth, he's never had any sort of academic studies so why not experience the basic foundation of primary education?

You guys think you know best coz all you think is everyone just wants to utilize other pple's opportunities, i visited the school myself and saw the good work Mrs. Jane Obinchu is doing, she can sacrifice her own time to try and give the old man basic education, and yet you say that it is mis-educating, OH C'MON...

Am telling you if the old man is to go to an adult education system, there is nothing going on there and further more that system has faded in Kenya unlike here in the dont criticize people who are sacrificing their lives, going through humiliating situations to better the education of the old man and others...

Anonymous said...


I encourage you to make a habit of reviewing whatever you write before posting on the internet. Your angry and hasty comments have only served to expose your absolute lack of knowledge of how adults should be educated. And from your juvenile language, I also encourage you to get an education. Which is perhaps why you're "here in the States".

I have no idea who told you that I never had my studies in Kenya. In any case, I cannot see how that should be a prerequisite for anyone to talk about the education system here. Next you will be telling me that because I have not taken cocaine I should not talk criticize its abuse?

Mrs Jane Obinchu, like many other teachers country-wide, is probably doing a good job. And that is as should be. But on the matter of one Kimani Maruge, neither she nor you have shown that the right thing was done. That is what you ought to be showing, not asking anyone to "get a life".

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