Wednesday, June 1, 2016

President Uhuru Kenyatta needs to think about his legacy

President Uhuru Kenyatta scores highly as an affable person who mingles freely with the lowly in society. He has demystified the presidency; making himself accessible to Kenyans from all walks of life.

However, Uhuru hasn’t done well on good governance, inculcating better leadership practices, respecting the rule of law, nurturing accountability and accommodating dissent from critics since taking power in 2013.

The sixty-four-thousand-dollar question many Kenyans have been asking is this: What shall President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto pass to the next generation when they shall have gone to meet their Lord?

Kenyans have seen Uhuru and Ruto lead a government littered with mega corruption scandals, impunity, land grabbing and looting of public funds. They have seen the importation of expensive anti-riot gear to suppress dissenters hence, killing democracy.  

Deputy President Ruto just like Uhuru, is an amiable person. He is easily approachable. His close friends say, he is one of the most generous political leaders in Kenya who shares his money and in huge bills.

It’s imperative that the two Jubilee coalition leaders attended to their legacies with only 14 months left before the next general election if they truly care about bequeathing a positive legacy to the next generation. They should reflect on their political journey and ask themselves what future generations will find in record about them-verbatim, written, and oral.

Current events in the country if not urgently addressed will put the legacy of Uhuru and Ruto in jeopardy unless they make a fast ‘u’ turn.

Today, if Uhuru agreed to a new IEBC created jointly with the opposition that will see a free and fair elections in 2017, he is likely to go down in history as a very transformative president. He has a chance to slay another dragon of tribal bigotry, corruption and open doors for a free society devoid of nepotism and inequality.

As the adage goes, “a good name is better than riches.” The good you do in life to rekindle hopes, offer counsel, share kindness and mercy will determine the immortality you will leave and will define quality and not the quantity that you shall be remembered for.

Most Kenyans are proud that they have a president and deputy who mingles freely with all and sundry but this is not enough. They want to see more positive things; they want to enjoy their freedom as enshrined in the constitution.

The legacies of the late Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King of South Africa and USA respectively, are  unsurpassed. Their families and nations proudly associate with these legends with confidence.
In Kenya, the late Tom Mboya, Masinde Muliro, JM Kariuki, and Chelagat Mutai, will forever be remembered for their patriotism through the quest for freedom, fairness (equity) and an inclusive government. 

Cord leader Raila Odinga, Gitobu Imanyara and James Orengo, to mention but a few remain living agents of our freedom and a representation of the future worthy fighting for.

It’s tragic that late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta bravely fought for independence but dented his legacy through greed and political assassinations. Who knows that is why the current president rarely invokes his father’s name publically. May be he fears the controversy its likely to generate!

What our leaders forget is that, wealth is not everything. In fact, the greatest men and women who have made history in the world like Mother Theresa of Calcutta, Matma Gandhi of India were not rich. They never lived in mansions, but left a rich legacy when they passed on.

Mother Theresa is immortalized for her service to the poor, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King for their bravery in the quest for emancipation of their people from injustices. Raila Odinga and Kenneth Matiba are likely to be immortalized for their bravery in the fight for wider democratic space in Kenya.

Activist Boniface Mwangi once said these words to President Uhuru: “Long after you’re gone, we shall remember you not by your net worth but by your deeds. Your father, who Kenyans fundraised for so that he could build a house after his release from prison in 1961, turned around and decided to grab land.”

The late Dr Myles Munroe, of the Bahamas Faith Evangelistic Ministries while on a visit to Kenya shortly before he died in a plane crash, said that Kenyans are blessed to have a President from an affluent family. The motivational speaker was optimistic that Uhuru’s government is likely fight graft since the President is self-reliant materially.  

When good things happen in any society, the world looks at the leadership of that country. That is why President Uhuru is applauded when things are right but discredited when things are wrong.

As the 4th President of the republic of Kenya under Uhuru Kenyatta has got room to redeem his legacy so that he can leave an indelible mark in Kenya. Just as God looks at our deeds, human beings too watch our steps. When the good outnumbers the bad, we leave a legacy.

Quality Education Key to Progress

The recent expose dubbed 'Certificate of Doom' by Kenya's NTV television channel was a commendable piece. That is why we need to encourage members of the fourth estate to keep unraveling the truths on academic fraud and impropriety in Kenya. The truth must be told if we truly care about building and nurturing a society with academic competency and respect through integrity.

Now that the cat is out of the bag on academic fraud, the Ministry of Education, Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) and Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) must be put on the spotlight because they are tasked to ensure quality education and effective testing procedures for all learners in the country.

First of all, does the Ministry of Education conduct thorough vetting of all tertiary institutions to ensure that they conform to learning standards like: presence of qualified instructors, upholding entry grades of students based on the courses they take, the institutions’ affiliations to examination testing bodies at home and abroad and the suitability of the learning environments? It is pathetic that many public and private learning institutions in Kenya have lost their credibility either because of being commercialized, lack of integrity during registration, learning and testing or operating in an environment not equipped with the right facilities.

With modern technology, to start a proprietary institution, you only require two rooms, five desktop computers and a receptionist to open a computer college on Tom Mboya Street. Many parents from upcountry who are unfamiliar with what goes on in our urban centres are often duped to enroll their children in such fake institutions. These fake institutions can be found in Nairobi and other Kenyan small towns like Kisii, Embu, Voi, Eldoret etc. They lack operating credentials from the Ministry of Education and perhaps the only validation they have is a license from the municipalities in which they operate.

With the mushrooming of malpractices in professional and career development, we cannot blame the operators who want to make quick bucks or the end user students but the Ministry of Education which is tasked with regulating the standards of learning and testing in the country. The recent revelation by Dennis Okari of NTV about malpractices in the education sector puts the efficiency of the Ministry of education, KNEC and KICD on the line.

In the academic world, higher learning institutions like the University of Nairobi enjoy the power of setting up curriculum standards and study modules for students through the department of higher education.

However, tertiary institutions must operate under strict curriculum disciplines provided by the Ministry of Education. In the NTV expose, I was shocked to see Nairobi Aviation College granting a diploma certificate in aeronautical engineering. I just wondered which examining body provided the final testing for the award of such diploma, which was on the college’s logo. Besides, I just wonder how a company like Kenya Airways can hire an Aerospace technician diploma holder from an institution with no capacity to train or even test their students in such a sensitive course.

It is only a desperate employer who would accept a diploma certificate bearing a tertiary College logo on it transcripts. It can also be noted that, tertiary institutions often offer internal courses like basic computer literacy, computer repair, communication, math tutoring etc whose certificates are often printed in the institution’s logos and this is acceptable, but not high calibre courses like aeronautical engineering.

Just like the Kenya Bureau of standards (KBS) and Pharmacy and Poisons Board (KPPB) which ensures the quality, potency, and validity of goods, chemicals and medicines manufactured or imported into the country, the Ministry of Education should ensure that, knowledge imparted into Kenyans’ brains is up to standard and can conform to competency in human capital in the labour market. 

To avoid cheating through impersonation, KNEC, which is the umbrella testing body in the Country together with other bodies like KASNEB needs to ensure that the exams are proctored with the strictness it deserves. Since the institutions registered by the Ministry of Education offering KNEC and KASNEB exams are known, it’s their responsibility to safeguard integrity during testing. It must be remembered that foreign testing bodies like The Institute of Commercial Management (ICM), City and Guilds International (CGI), Association of Business executives (ABE) etc, rely on KNEC to ensure that integrity is maintained during testing. There are many Kenyan students who study the curriculum of the said colleges locally.

Just like in government, corruption has permeated in the education field. The old trend where children of the rich excelled academically is now reciprocal. When children from poor families are toiling and moiling to acquire college education, those from rich families register and attend few classes and in less than 48 months, they are in the arena marching in academic gowns ready to be awarded with degrees and diplomas. Your guess is as good as mine on how they compromised their way up due to their financial muscles. The end result is total incompetency in the job market.

I’m not against the mushrooming of proprietary and tertiary institutions because they benefit students who do not qualify to join national universities to achieve professional careers. My problem with these institutions is their failure to follow standard practices to ensure quality in their training. 

Academic integrity is the first impression on how an individual is likely to behave in their professional life. A student who participates in plagiarism or cheating is likely to carry the same trend to the job market. A lecturer who rewards a student because of money or sexual favours is as worse as a physician who knowingly gives wrong medication to his patients. Such lecturers destroy not only the student but all individuals who will seek the services of the student in professional life.

We must remember that, a well-educated society will lead to accelerated socio-economic development, a boost in efficiency, effective service delivery in the public and private sectors. One common reality is that, even with increased number of Universities and tertiary colleges in Kenya, challenges in the education sector continue to spiral since we transitioned from the 7-4-2-3 to 8-4-4 system of education in 1985. It is therefore prudent that the education policy makers review our education system to make it conform to the challenges of the modern century.

{First publicized in February 2015 Joseph Lister Nyaringo}