Yet again elections are around the corner thrusting Kenyans into another busy and sometimes chaotic period. The conversations I have had with many Kenyans give me an impression that they are carefully listening to what politicians are saying. For those with kids in school however are worried that there are no clear and inspiring education policy proposals from the two leading coalitions.
Even Jubilee supporters acknowledge that the Jubilee administration has overseen one of the most chaotic education regimes ever witnessed in the country’s history. Some of Jubilee problems stem from the new constitution. The creation of the two levels of governments led to a tussle over which government would be responsible for what.
The Jubilee administration wasted many years stuck in the argument that education is a national government function but did little to creatively take a leadership role in matters of education in a bi-centered governing system. Moreover, the Jubilee administration took too long to accept the reality that county governments are here to stay. The net effect was a high deficiency of trust between the two levels of governments that has led to incoherence in education policy formulation and implementation.
Some of the education related promises such as laptops for standard one students—who ironically are now in standard four– the Jubilee administration rode on to win the presidency, seem not to be anchored on any policy agenda. Even if Jubilee administration were to fulfill the promise, those in the know will tell you that computers are simply a minute part of ed-tech supply chain. Unless the other pieces are in place, laptops will remain just toys in the hands of dazed students.
A grim of hope however rests on the work of Secretary of Education, Dr. Fred Matiang’i. His short stint in the Ministry seems to have awakened a ministry that had gone to sleep. Matiang’i is a man on a firefighting mission. He has witnessed an unprecedented national examinations manipulation; unprecedented burning of schools; and a resilient union of teachers that is demanding for better working conditions for its members. He is also in charge in the ministry at a time when university education is expanding at a historical rate. How many fires will he put out?
Although Kenyans appreciate Dr. Matiang’i’s work, there is a wide recognition that the country education sector’s problems are much deeper. No one man can change the system but a concerted effort fully supported by the top Jubilee principals and the 47 counties. Matiang’i has to think beyond a one man effort.
As the Jubilee government goes back to the voters, it is time for it to produce its scorecard on matters education. That does not leave CORD off the hook; Kenyans need to hear about CORD’s education proposals in order for them to compare, which among the two coalitions, deserve their vote.
Dr. Benard M.Manyibe is Founder and CEO of EduMonitor, a leading online educational content company based in the USA. Dr. Manyibe also teaches at Langston University, USA