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
“It is tantamount to throwing away his education to the dogs,” said the chairman of the Parents and
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.