- There is no doubt in my mind that there are many city children who will not be taking up their desks at Mutira and Chebusaas.
- The average middle class 14-year-old has never left the gate of the home unaccompanied.
- The motherly tendency to shield their sons from real life, on the other hand, is in my opinion, catastrophic.
Children of city slickers have been admitted to some rural schools, setting off a round of discussions and not an insignificant amount of outrage and mirth.
A child born in the high-rises of Kileleshwa, Nairobi, attended Msingi Bora kindergarten (where they are enrolled as soon as they conceived because the waiting list is long) before attending primary school in a quiet suburb, is suddenly expected to acquire a plastic bucket, and a metal box and present themselves to the headmistress of Mutira Girls Secondary School in Kirinyaga or AIC Chebisaas Girls Secondary School in Nandi County.
These are good, wholesome and well-performing rural public schools.
There is also no doubt in my mind that they are character-forming set-ups, which help children learn to share and grow up independent of their over-indulgent parents.
Equally, there is no doubt in my mind that there are many city children who will not be taking up their desks at Mutira and Chebusaas.
The average middle class 14-year-old has never left the gate of the home unaccompanied.
They have never been on a matatu alone either and they have no capacity to exist on their own – they can’t cook, they can’t go to the market, they have no life skills. It is not catastrophic, but it means they will have to bloom late and grow up fast.
When I was 14, I was in Form Two in Siakago Boys High School, I had plenty of life skills. I could swim and fish in a flooded river.
I could steal mangoes from nearby farms during outing (do they still have outings?) and I could walk five kilometres on my own to the dispensary at Siakago Market.
And it is a hot, dusty place where the cobras line up the road and wave hello as you walk by.
Hell, I even tried talking to a local girl once, though I do recall it did not go swimmingly well.
Being a tough, well-brought-up Mbeere girl with way better life skills than myself, she laughed in my face and dismissed my incompetent protestations of love in unprintable language.
I was more amused than offended and for many months later, I nearly broke my own back from the profusion of pats I gave myself for being such a brave, dare-devil “man” who was totally fearless in the face of clever and dismissive Mbeere girls.
The point? It is a great disservice to children when they grow up without being allowed to think, explore or experience life without their parents filtering reality for them.
The parental instinct to protect girls is natural and to some extent beneficial.