BY VICTOR OCHIENG’
Last week, Nyamninia Primary School at Yala, in the Gem of Siaya, trended on a bad note. There was a video that went round, of a distraught boy showing wounds that resulted from a thorough beating. Word went round that some two teachers canned the boy because he could not attain 400 marks.
The story arrested my attention because of two reasons: One, Nyamninia Primary School is close to my alma mater – Nyamninia Secondary School. Two, in 2019, a13-year-old – Samantha Milan – from Nyamninia Primary School won in the Spelling Bee National and Africa Championship Competition. This was not a mean feat. The victory put the school on a pedestal – and to some extent – built its brand with brilliance. The competition brought together the best junior and senior spellers from twelve African countries: Kenya, Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana Malawi, Nigeria, Sierra Leon, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda and Zambia.
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Milan was feted because she was able to evince brilliance and excellence. She got a cash prize of Sh 500,000, a laptop, a trophy and a tablet. Consequently, the school got a 26-seater bus from DT Dobie. The teacher of English also got Sh 50,000.
Dear reader, after such peerless performance, you know the eyes of the people have been on this school. For the sage said: Nothing succeeds like success. When people succeed, people expect them to succeed more.
Again, both oriental and occidental knowledge acknowledge: People who access success in what they do, are admired and envied in equal measure. They are loved and loathed at the same time. So, those who succeed should know that they have soft underbellies that can be easily pricked.
I wish the arrowheads at Nyamninia Primary School knew that after their gutsy girl trounced plenty of peers in the Spelling Bee Competition, they told the world that they were a big brand to behold. In business lingo and language, branding is a way of clarifying and communicating what makes people, products or organisations in particular – to look spectacular or peculiar. It is the art of re-inventing oneself. It is akin to what a snake or an eagle does when it is advanced in age. It sloughs off its dead old skin.
Branding should not only be taken seriously by Nyamninia Primary School, but also other schools across board. There are things that happen in schools that make them rise from the ashes like the proverbial phoenix. Like now, most Kenyans know schools that have shined like stars in KCPE and KCSE.
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When schools shine as stars, they become big brands that capture and captivate the attention of the public. For naturally, people take note of success. It must be what prompted John Fitzgerald Kennedy to say, “Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan.”
Sometimes, when an institution shows its shine and sheen, even resistant forces emanating from within can attempt to pale it. I hope you have heard of the African proverb that says: “If there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm.”
Moreover, “A hyena can only enter the compound using the hole created by the family dog.” Like in this scenario, one wonders: Who took the video of the boy that felt crest-fallen after being beaten like a snake? Of course, seat-of-the-pants-sense will tell you that this was done by a person in-close-range who decided to wash the dirty linen of the school in public. My conscience and conviction convinced me to argue that way because pupils do not carry phones to school.
Again, one wonders: Why the spectre of incompetence and unprofessionalism? The child was wailing as if he had ants in his pants because the teachers’ expectations were too much on him. Teachers tried to press pus out of a chagrined child. They were hell-bent that the boy had to score 400 marks – come rain, come shine; come pain, come gain. This was uncalled for. For when I was training as a teacher of English Language and Literature in the chilly land of Kikuyu, I remember fondly: In common units like Introduction to Psychology and Education Psychology, the varsity dons made us to stand to understand what they christened as: Individual differences in learners. I hope the two fellow teachers who flogged the tween also learnt Psychology in teacher-training colleges.
Finally, schools are brands. The brands must be built with brilliance. The things Principals, teachers, children and parents do – make or break schools. On this is, I recommend the book titled Midas Touch by Donald Trump and Robert Kiyosaki. While putting together the oeuvre of that true treasure trove, the two putative authors abutted their thesis on the metaphor of the human hand. To them, the five fingers that grace the human hand are symbolic. The thumb stands for emotional maturity and strength of character. The index finger symbolises FOCUS – Follow One Course Until Successful. The middle finger (most preponderant one), is an emblem of the brand – what one stands for. The ring finger depicts the essence of relationships and human engineering. The small finger means small things that matter. “We do not have to do great things,” said Mother Mary Teresa, “but do small things in a great way.”
The writer rolls out talks and training services in schools. [email protected] 0704420232