Week 1: What is Childhood? Childhood & School in Kenya

What is Childhood?

This video, “Now it’s me as their elder: After a Mother’s Death, a Struggle to Finish School in Kenya,” was found on the PBS NewsHour YouTube channel, an evening news program that is broadcast on PBS. According to PBS.org, their documentary series “Time for School” has followed children from different countries since 2003 to document their experiences with school as they grow up.

Following 11 years of Joab Onyando’s life in 9 short minutes, this video starts with a young Joab in 2003 expressing his hope to become an engineer, and ends with him as a 21-year-old receiving his last chance to attend school and achieve that same dream. Living in Kenya, Joab explained that “when the government introduced free primary school, it was like every child wanted to join school.” The documentary goes on to describe how more than a million children rushed to take part in school for the first time, excited and hopeful to create a better future for themselves.

In the neighborhood slums of Kenya, it seems as though school is the only way for a child to maintain their childhood, at least in part. Children, as this documentary illustrates, are dreamers and doers; they have dreams for their futures, especially their chosen careers, and when school finally became available to them, they were excited to go, learn and do what they had to to become what they dreamed. If they don’t attend school, however, or drop out, there seems to be no other option for them, as was the case for Joab. So, in the slums of Kenya, it seems as though attending school lets kids maintain their childhood of dreams, as in the case of Joab’s brother, whereas not attending school means poverty and the harsh realities of adulthood.


PBS NewsHour (2015, September 19). Now it’s me as their elder: After a mother’s death, a struggle to finish school in Kenya [Video file]. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xv4xS5-Fz8M



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