The CISP (Corruption in School Placement) Theory

It is a mess! A horrible mess! Even before the dust around the celebrations of the KCPE exams has settled, Safaricom was at it again with a SMS about Form 1 selection. The excitement about finding out the secondary school that a child was to report to in three- or four-weeks’ time turned into a dark cloud haunted by a furious ghost of disorganization accompanied by its twin-ghost of disorder.

We have, for instance, a child who sat their KCPE exams in Ruiru Sub-county and had around 330 marks being placed to a school in Maragoli. Another child sat for their KCPE in Lamu only to be enlisted for enrolment in Nakuru County. A candidate who sat their exams in Mombasa has been placed in Marakwet. Another child from Kiambu County has been placed in a day school in Mombasa County and the list goes on and on and on… Think this is new…? Noooooooo! It has been going on for years! From countless cases of boys being placed in girls’ schools and vice versa to top performers with over 380 marks being placed in local sub-county schools, the trend has been worsening. Granted there are some acceptable and pleasing placements and arguments in favour of patriotism and national integration, this inconsiderate madness has to STOP!

There is clear lack of logic and practicality in some of these placements. When a day school selects a child hundreds of kilometres away, it leaves one wondering whether we have the right people in our mental hospitals. On the surface, this might look like an error until you look at it from different lenses and perspectives. Such incompetence in a system that is supposed to open the mind and transform the nation only ululates and celebrates mediocrity with little or no regard for the parent or the child. What’s the point of the school selection exercise that parents and their candidate-children are always subjected to every year if you can miss an admission to any of the schools that you took time to evaluate and select?

But! I think I have a hypothetical (corruption) theory… My hypothetical corruption-in-school-placement (CISP) theory is two-prong. The first dimension is politically inspired and is grounds for government propaganda to thrive. We have been promised 100% transition into high school for every child who sat KCPE. Since this is not practical for government to implement on the ground, the same government creates chaos to ensure that the 100% transition is justifiable on paper (read: every child has been placed), but it is practically impossible to achieve. This way, the corrupt government officials can claim 100% placement and demonstrate that the work has been done, but it is simply equal to deodorizing dogshit (will smell nice for some time, but stink in the long run).

The second dimension is that of bribery and corruption. If the Form 1 selection is done by principals and their representatives, what logic is there in placing a child from Kiambu in your day school in Mombasa? Assuming there were even direct flights from their house to your school field, how stressful would it be for a 13- or 14-year-old to commute from one climate, political, and social zone to another totally different one? I read menace-by-design. My hypothesis: The parent of such a child would be forced to go seeking admission in a nearby school by being arm-twisted into bribing their way into that nearby school. Meanwhile, the vacancy that they have been coerced into missing in Mombasa shall be “sold out” to the highest bidder… and here we were, thinking KEMSA was bad!

Share your experiences and let’s call out this systemic crap to order!