Editorial

Jennifer Wanjiku Khamasi Ph. D

Associate Professor of Family and Consumer Science Education

This volume of JASEML has unique contributions that speak to the importance of and the need to embrace holistic education through the education system in Kenya.  The philosophy of holistic education is captured with simple words by J. Krishnamurti as the “highest function of education”; which is “to bring about an integrated individual who is capable of dealing with life as a whole” (http://www.holistic-education.net/educate2.htm).  To achieve such a level of education, first and foremost, I acknowledge that teacher educators in teacher education institutions in Kenya need to acquire skills that can facilitate in the preparation of teachers who are “capable of dealing with life as a whole”. 

 

The articles in this Volume reveal to us in unique ways issues of public health concern such as HIV and AIDS, sexuality education and related issues, as well as environmental education.  Because of the uniqueness of the issues raised, the three papers featured invite the reader to interrogate the education processes that the participants of the reported studies who were also learners by the time of the study went through.  It is also an invitation to educators to ask these questions: in what ways do educators, parents or guardians and leaders in the community allow the conditions reported in this volume to happen the way they do?  In what ways can the educators in these regions transform themselves in order to be able to transform the conditions reported in these articles?

 

Chapter 1 and 2 report on studies that were carried out in two different regions of Kenya, and the third used secondary data that also points at an education process that needs transformation.  The participants in the first two articles were minors – in this case and as the details unfold in the particular chapters, they were vulnerable learners under the care of parents, community and the school system.  What unfolds in the findings, is situations where the three factors – parents, community and school system have processes that are not integrated and therefore are not working for to the benefit of the vulnerable children and by extension learners in these communities. 

 

Chapter 1 reminds us that gender parity will not be a reality soon, particularly in areas with high prevalence of HIV and AIDS.  The paper is based on a survey that used a number of methods to investigate the influence of a number of girls’ characteristics on the prevalence of HIV and AIDS psychosocial stressors.  The characteristics that were crucial to the study were: age, type of school attended, class level and parental status.  The paper has highlighted the fact that prevalence of HIV and AIDS in the study site has led to low school enrollment because of a variety of factors which include low fertility of infected women, and poor school attendance by a significant number of children born with HIV due to stigma.  On another note, girls enrolled in school within the study site are taken out of school to carry out other family responsibilities particularly if the mother is deceased due to AIDS.  In addition, household incomes and savings are depleted due to HIV and AIDS pandemic; a factor that affects the capacity of families to pay school fees.  In such cases, girls are withdrawn from school by supporting families.  These occurrences are pointers to the fact that HIV and AIDS is reversing gains made on girl-child education predominantly in the region covered by the study leading to poor educational outcomes in the region.

 

Chapter 2 brings to the reader the reality of boys growing up in a rural community in Kenya where cultural values are ‘forced’ into their lives through rites of passage, a process that to most of them, is not beneficial at all and disrupts their academic journey i.e. schooling in primary and secondary schools.  The data presented in this Chapter reveals what the boys go through (in the name of rites of passage) and their perception of the process of initiation to adulthood.  The unfortunate part is that the rites of passage increases a number of the boys’ vulnerability, thus reducing their chances of benefiting fully from schooling and the fullness of life as a child. 

 

In Chapter 3, the authors highlight the effects and challenges posed by global warming in Kenya.  They also invite the reader to comprehend the opportunities that global warming brings and ways in which government agencies, educators and stakeholders generally can respond through school programs. 

As I conclude this editorial. I am reminded of Paulo Freire’s words that says:

There is no such thing as a neutral education process. Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate the integration of generations into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity to it, or it becomes the 'practice of freedom', the means by which men and women deal critically with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world (in Mayo, 1999, p. 5)

The three papers are calling us to devise ways in which we can ‘critically deal with the reality’ of vulnerable children/learners and communities; as well as ways of transforming the world through an education process so that, children will no longer find such an oppressive society either through HIV/AIDS stigma, sexual offences propagated in the name of rite of passage and/or environmental degradation.  For Freire, such an “education should allow the oppressed to regain their sense of humanity” and consequently be able to overcome their condition (Freire, 1970). 

 

References

Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum.

Mayo, P. (1999).Gramsci, Freire and Adult Education. Possibilities for Transformative Action, London and New York: Zed Books, pg. 5

Holistic Education.  http://www.holistic-education.net/educate2.htm retrieved on 12th February 2015