Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company, Lord Byron once said.
A few months ago, ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi paid glowing tribute to Prof George Godia, former Education PS, for having taught him letter writing.
Mr Mudavadi said every time he reads poorly constructed letters from young people, he is grateful to Prof Godia.
“The man who lies there taught us how to write letters, including love letters,” Mr Mudavadi said during Prof Godia’s requiem mass in Nairobi and Vihiga.
Educators and communications professionals know that letter writing is serious business. It makes the difference between quality and poor education.
It was not by accident that this year’s KCSE examination candidates were asked to write a letter in their English Paper II.
Letter writing is taught under functional writing. It requires students to express in words, specific information, ideas, thoughts and feelings.
In letter writing, students are tested on how well they have learnt to express their thoughts, feelings and ideas.
The examiner wants to see creativity, imagination, logical thinking and flow of thoughts.
During teenage, where nearly all the candidates belong, it is wonderful to be able to write a letter.
Self-expression is one of the finest skills in general education that should be developed in learners.
Communication lubricates the sinews that hold institutions and society together. Simplicity, Clarity and conciseness are the watchwords.
People remember those who helped them develop this skill.
In a society where social status and gender are irrelevant to moving ahead, skilful writing, coupled with reading and numeracy, is important in career and professional success.
The ability to read and write has enormous implications on one’s education. Improving one’s reading skills through formal education enables one to access and deal with all knowledge.
Beyond these lie more advanced skills: critical reading ability and analytic ability to formulate complex programmes of action at work to solve problems.
The ability to express one’s thoughts, feelings and ideas in speech and on paper is one of the refinements of an educated mind. You make your ideas clear and can quickly understand and transmute other people’s thoughts, feelings and ideas with the required simplicity, clarity and fluency.
A school library worth its salt should have books containing letters written by great people.
The letters will help students appreciate the problems, tensions and issues the people dealt with, and thereby, appreciate something about real life.