Killing education to feed politics; what it means for the future

Has it crossed anyone’s mind that we might be killing education for political gain? The Joho drama will end soon, but it will leave long-lasting effects on our education sector. The sad part is that this didn’t even start with Joho, but has been silently ongoing for a while. To bring sanity into public offices, we pushed for change in legislation to require minimum education qualifications for various elective seats. At first, it seemed a wise move. Now, it looks like we shot ourselves in the foot. How many of our leaders have questionable certificates? Certificates that were acquired in record class time, while still being actively involved in politics? Certificates that miraculously appeared after the legislation?

Mike Sonko, Ferdinand Waititu Baba Yao, Willy Mtengo and Eric Sudi are just but a few of politicians whose academic credentials have been put to question. Remember that NGO’s Coordination Board executive director Fazul Mahamed had a degree that was disowned by Egerton, but he still got a parastatal job? There is this popular joke of a son who tells his dad that he wants a career in organised crime, and the dad asks in which sector he wants to venture- the private sector or government. We are bringing to life that joke.

If Education still the Key, who needs the master when copies are there

It is going to be difficult to convince the future generations that education is key since all that matters is how much money and power they have. After all, they can use the money to buy a certificate. That is if they may wish to be in possession of one because certificates will be nothing but just papers. University education is diminishing in value because universities have allowed themselves to get sucked into politics of greed and are awarding dubious degrees to undeserving candidates. Most universities are guilty of going around the requirement of keeping class attendance records, with their students sitting for exams without meeting the laid down lecture hours needed to sit an exam. Cases of students signing attendance sheets for their friends are very rampant. A report by Commission for University Education (CUE) in February this year revealed that many students graduate prematurely, without completing the required number of units, and in some cases, they clear 4-year degree courses within a shorter period of time. Universities have also been accused of enabling forgery of academic papers by failing to put up sufficient security details.

Graduants at a graduation ceremony (image courtesy of International Centre of Technology College)


Attendance records & University Accreditation 

Most universities are guilty of going around the requirement of keeping class attendance records, with their students sitting for exams without meeting the laid down lecture hours needed to sit an exam. Cases of students signing attendance sheets for their friends are very rampant. A report by Commission for University Education (CUE) in February this year revealed that many students graduate prematurely, without completing the required number of units, and in some cases, they clear 4-year degree courses within a shorter period of time. Universities have also been accused of enabling forgery of academic papers by failing to put up sufficient security details.

Whether colleges are licensed and accredited to offer the courses they offer won’t even matter in future, we will have them on the top floor of every residential building. Community Development Fund (CDF) is being used to open schools all over while the country is suffering from an acute shortage of teachers. The few tutors that are qualified are quitting the profession for greener pastures. Those left have turned the profession into a part-time job, with some even subcontracting unqualified personnel to take their places in the classrooms. We are already a society that glorifies wealth over knowledge. We have perfected the ‘the end justifies the means’ philosophy. It doesn’t matter what you know, what matters is who you know. It saves you the trouble. Meritocracy has been thrown to the dogs.

Education is now about careerism not knowledge

In the past few years, Kenyan education has lost its shine. CUE cast doubt on about 120,000 degrees issued by various institutions since 2012. Education has stopped being about knowledge and instead it’s about careerism; we profile some courses as more marketable than others. We encourage our children to go for courses that can make them ‘somebody in the society’. Power and status symbol have become more valued than academic merit. Slyness, deception, and bullying have overtaken academic enrichment. Careerism kills the main idea behind higher education, and to deal with it, we will need to deal with the unplanned expansion of universities too.

Anyway, we may laugh and enjoy the political comedy served by these qualification dramas leading to the general elections, but we should also not forget that we are not only killing the ambitions of our political enemies but also the future generations. This is not to say that people with dubious academic papers should not be called out, but we should desist from dragging credible institutions into the mess just for the sake of political gain. Something needs to be done, and real quick. We are dumping down our generation, we are killing their future. Education needs a saviour.

The first step was cleaning up the national exams and the leakage cartels. While the drama that surrounded the KCSE period excites the public, we need a continuous program and well-structured strategy to reform education in this country. It wasn’t enough, but it was a step in the right direction. We, however, need to take caution not to kill the dreams of kids who don’t make the pass. Kila mtu hawezi kulia sinia moja. (we can’t all eat from the same bowl)

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