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The government’s decision to allow the underage students to continue their education for this academic session has come as a relief to hundreds of parents.

Notwithstanding the importance and benefits of enrolling children at the age of six as prescribed by policy and understood by all, the government’s move to reconsider revoking the admission of 890 pre-primary students is good.

For one of the main grievances from schools, especially those privately owned and the parents was on the education ministry implementing the policy in the middle of an academic session and not so much on the execution of the policy itself.

Our experimental way of executing policies, plans and activities should be a lesson for all of us. We rush to inaugurate incomplete constructions just as we lag behind in implementing policies meant to be rolled out in time for the academic session.

In the case of enforcing the admission age of six, a policy that has existed for years, we are even worse. We see cases of under age admission year after year because of the education ministry’s weak implementation of the policy. When it did implement, it was in the middle of an academic session. It is claimed that the ministry had planned on enforcing the admission age policy sooner but got caught up in removing the cut off point for class X students.

The harrowing experience parents and schools go through when enrolling students is a result of the fluid functioning of the education ministry. Being accommodative of changes does not mean we compromise on quality and issues that experts believe are in the best interest of the child. The ministry cannot be inconsistent with its decisions or its implementations and experiment with the lives of our children and their learning.

Policies and plans concern the people and even when supported with good reason, they rarely stand a chance against the emotions involved. At the national level, every parent and school owner is objective and understanding about the difficulties children face when they start school early. There is enough research to show that an underage child would not be cognitively ready to learn. Yet, it becomes a different story when it comes to his or her own child.  It becomes another story when it comes to schools and parents appealing to the prime minister.

The parents and schools first break the rules and then appeal to the government to consider. The government complies and bends the rule. The decision is final but a question we should all be asking ourselves is  – what are we teaching our children?

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