I rarely praise people loudly. I have many reasons for that. You praise and the next minute you are not sure you will not be let down. It happens all the time in many places. It pathetically happens more so in politics. Kenyan politics is no exceptional to this reasoning. Anyway, for this occasion may I praise one gentleman I have lately admired, Hon Fred Matiang’i Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Education in Kenya. He has done quite an exemplary work in our forest called Kenya which has myriad of challenges and big headaches called corruption and tribalism. That our education has been under siege by corrupt cartels is an open secret.
That commercialization of our education in Kenya has improved access and even quality of delivery is not in doubt. However, it has come with so much attendant negative consequences. It is well known that for a while now top private primary schools do perform above the public ones. This for a number of reasons that include public teachers de-motivation with the fights with the employer, inadequate facilities and general poverty in the country. However, the whole picture has not been clear and cheating has been renting the air among others. Of course private enterprises without safeguards in any sector can go overboard much as it brings efficiency which generally lacks in public service. Nonetheless, at secondary school level; top public schools have maintained an upper hand on average. However, in here also lies the problem of head teachers and parents also trying to fool the system for the schools to remain on top and for the parents securing good courses for their children.
In a nutshell, these and many more have bogged the system. This is part of what CS Matiang’i with his energy and well thought actions have sought to change. Indeed the resistance has been evident with some actions such as the burning of schools suggesting that the cartels were keen to stop him on the tracks. I was not sure whether Matiang’i would persist in face of too much adversity. However, he has proved critics and naysayers wrong and also shown that some great leaders are made by crisis. They overcome them and do great things. How I wish we could have someone fight graft with the same zeal.
Some of the changes have caught many by surprise. Even the release of KCPE results early today is quite a phenomenon. I have seen posts in the social media nicknaming him our John Pombe Magufuli (Tanzania’s president). I have seen others suggesting that he be given the role of combating graft as head of EACC (Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission). Others see potential presidency role in him. But what we all forget is the work is just half done. There is so much to do. In a country with a solid corrupt culture it can never be a one season event.
Matiang’i mirrors the late Cabinet Minister John Michuki of 2003 when he headed the Transport docket. His actions to streamline the public sector transport are legendry in Kenya up to now. We all know what happened when he was moved out of the docket. The rot in the sector (transport) has only grown over time. So besides Matiang’i efforts there is also need to come up with laws to combat the problems in the Education sector. Of course one day Matiang’i will leave the ministry (but pray not through the handwork of the cartels) and we would not want the experience of the transport sector nonsense after Michuki left.
For now is to say Kudos to Matiang’i. We can only pray for you. To reform anything in Kenya takes not just efforts but the grace of God. It’s a tough culture to change as graft is too endemic and powerful. But as Kenyans we are with you all the way – DRAIN THE SWAMP!
Harrison Mwirigi Ikunda
THE WRITER IS A RESEARCHER AND CONSULTANT