“A liberal education…frees a man from the prison-house of his class, race, time, place, background, family and even his nation.”

 

Pearls House offers students, parents, educators, and stakeholders access to relevant information and resources to meet their educational needs. Our vision is to be a leading online educational mentorship platform.

Pearls House was founded to remedy the failings of Kenyan educational system, which since the founding of our nation over five decades ago has failed to live up to its expectations, that is, to help students (1) become interested in our environment, (2) learn leadership and the responsibility of leading fellow human beings, (3) become aware of their strengths and limitations, and acquire the courage to accept failure, (4) be life-long learners and researchers always looking for solutions to world problems, and (5) become skilled professional workers who are willing to contribute to the welfare of Kenyans in particular, and the world at large.

The question of what constitutes right, relevant, beneficial, and ideal education has pricked our consciences since colonial days, and is now the subject of many government legislation and policies. The greatest desire of parents is to enable their children to access the ‘ideal’ education, which many interpret as the kind of education that can secure their future (especially financial future). Thus, the government has tried to steer policy into supporting education within certain fields they consider important for the economic development of the country.

The aims of education in Kenya has always differed from one agency to another, one parent to another, and one student to another. During colonialism, the British offered Kenyans vocational training, and denied them from accessing literary education. They argued that literary education was a waste of resources because in their imagination Kenyans only existed to serve colonial purposes and therefore, they just needed to learn ‘crafts’. In a debate in Kenya Legislative Council, W. Maclellan Wilson opined, “literary education will turn a good African into a bad European.” He urged his fellow legislators to consider implementing the findings and recommendations of Phelps-Stokes Commission Report.

The Phelps-Stoke Commission, which carried a few studies in Africa is perhaps the greatest insult to African mind and intellectualism. For instance, in one of the reports they recommended “for the education of women the school system should provide instruction and training for women in the care of children, cleanliness and the simple essentials of a home. Girls so trained should be available as servants in European homes.” Clearly, the commission did not consider African women as capable of having any career aspirations apart from serving the colonialists.

The commission called for the establishment of schools that will lead an African mind into eliminating of political, social and economic awareness of the colonial inequality. They sought development of colonial patriotism and loyalty to the crown through carefully crafted religious and moral education.

The commissioners assumed that Africans had an inferior mind, thus could only be taught ‘simples’ of life such as lessons of hygiene, home life training, industry especially simple agriculture, and basic recreational activities.  They denied Africans the benefit of liberal education.

Unfortunately, since independence the Kenyan government has contributed less in redefining the ideal education for our people. In some ways, some colonial traditions continue to dominate our minds.

The search for ideal education is not simple. With our continued emphasis on strict specialization right from undergraduate level, many young people may never know what an ideal education looks like. At Pearls, we believe the failure of Kenyan higher education is in its lack of breadth. Students are not truly broadened, hence have remained ignorant of too many aspects of our world of knowledge and aesthetics.

The over-emphasis of industrial and technical professions has denied students the wide perspective that a good general education can provide. Our undergraduate degrees are so poorly designed that they do not equip students with the necessary skills and the curiosity that is needed for innovation. One often feels compelled to undertake a graduate degree to make up for the inadequacies of the college education. A master’s degree was meant to train masters of fields, not to train students on how to think critically (although it might), a skill that a good general education can provide.

Pearls does not have all answers to our educational problems, ours is to provide a forum for debating these issues and charting effective policy. We call upon all students, parents, teachers, and policy makers to join our network of mentors and mentees who are committed to finding solutions to our educational problems.