Last week, Kenya’s minister of education announced cancellation of national examinations and declared 2020 as a lost year for primary and high school going children in Kenya.

Part of the reactions from students and parents were lamentations owing to the “perceived shame” of repeating a class and or finishing school a little older.

The truth about our world today is that we glorified academic pursuits and forgot the place of lifelong learning. We forgot to tell our children that learning outside classroom is as valuable as what is taught at school.

Lifelong learning is something that is done voluntarily and out of personal desire to know things. It is more focused on personal development and it helps us to understand the world around us.

Lifelong learners tend to achieve more in life because they easily turn their mistakes into opportunities not just for their personal benefits but also for others. They yearn to build confidence in self, improve on their personal skills and seek spaces for technical and professional growth, which do not necessarily have to be confined within the formal education system.

Today’s parents should shape their kids to be lifelong learners because the contemporary global challenges will need solutions from lifelong learners and not necessarily, those who got comfortable from being formal education graduates.

Though finishing a research project for my second Masters within a formal education system, I intentionally took lifelong learning as a path to access and opening up spaces that were earlier meant for a few.

Children are taught that education is key to life, which is the truth, but I want us to go further to emphasize how education takes place beyond four walls. If I were asked, every parent should identify as an educator. I carry many values from what my parents upheld as I was growing up and so is the story of many.

As Kenyan parents resign their children’s ‘education’ fate to Rona effects, they should ask themselves the extent to which they have gone to encourage their children to be lifelong learners.

Are they part of the ‘lost year narrative’ being peddled by those who consciously or unconsciously believe that learning must happen within a classroom?

I am not running away from the fact that in some communities, school is a safest space away from societal failures as evidenced by rising cases of gender based violence and teenage pregnancies. However, the more lifelong learners we have, the better we will be in addressing our day-to-day challenges.

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