Community Service


On the 5th of August 2016, The BBC ran an article about the 15 year old daughter of former president of the United States President Barack Obama. The title of the article read “US First Daughter Sasha Obama serves seafood in Summer job.” The world was amazed. At only 15, miss Sasha was already making her own money despite her dad being the most powerful man in the world at that time. This is completely unlike Kenya where the son of an MCA is walking around with a thick bodyguard.

Paid Community Service for High school Students.

Last week i had the opportunity to talk to the county government of Kisumu on matters finance. Kisumu county has a population of about 1.3 million people with over 700,000 people involved in income generating activities. My main point was on engaging high school students in meaningful activities during the holidays. The county boosts of 172 secondary schools and some 675 primary schools but we will stick to secondary schools for the purposes of this article.

As has been in the past, students break from school for a month but the ministry of education recently changed this system. Now high school students break for shorter April and August holidays of about a month and a longer December holiday that stretches for two months. During this period, most parents have deemed it necessary to enroll their kids for illegal holiday tuition(holiday tuition is banned in Kenya) in efforts to help them attain good grades otherwise known as “quality grades”. This is giving the education system a unidirectional approach and programming the minds of young people to believe that you either pass Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education(KCSE) and go to university or become nothing. The system doesn’t allow you to think outside the minimum university entry points bracket! What happens when they fail like was the case with mass failure in 2015, 2016 and 2017 KCSEs?

Education should better one’s understanding and judgement. A person with better understands and better judgments can then survive in the current competitive world. You actually don’t need volumes and volumes of literature loaded in your head. In fact, in very special cases like medicine does one directly apply book acquired knowledge to his work and even then, they still need some personal skills. Most of the jobs that we get require us to do a completely now training! Have you applied parts of a grasshopper or parts of a leaf in your work for example? But these two were very important essay topics in high school and might have even been the reason why some students failed to go to university.

My point is, formal education is important for the development of young people but just as it is in developed countries, we should give it a multidirectional approach. During the holidays, lets us engage these students in paid community service. This can include sweeping their estates, bookkeeping, helping create awareness etc. An hour in the morning and an hour in the evening is just enough. Assuming that we are paying them 200 per hour(which is too low), they would be earning about 400 for the two hours of community service. That will total to 12,000 by the end of their holiday. They can then decide on what to do with the money. It can even be bursary to pay their school fees and pocket money. The money is not the most important thing here but the fact that they earned it. By the time they are finishing high school course, they would have learnt of ways to even make more. Even if they don’t qualify to join universities and colleges, they would still have what it takes to survive alone and without much help. Those who have joined universities can still find part time jobs as evening taxi drivers, supermarket attendants etc and they will be earning something. A university student or anyone above 16 years old should not be a financial bother to the parents. They are capable of accidentally being parents!

Courtesy: James Amolloh


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