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Ministry of Education overreaches

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Ministry of Education overreaches


Education CS George Magoha. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Scottbellows

Summary

  • Kenya thrives as a beacon of education for our entire region.
  • We have enviable completion rates for primary and secondary education, extraordinarily high literacy levels, high attendance at institutions of tertiary education, and numerous links to universities around the world.
  • Our industries depend on qualified and prepared graduates to meet your job demands.

Kenya thrives as a beacon of education for our entire region. We have enviable completion rates for primary and secondary education, extraordinarily high literacy levels, high attendance at institutions of tertiary education, and numerous links to universities around the world. Our industries depend on qualified and prepared graduates to meet your job demands.

The perpetual discussions involve sectors begging higher education providers to continue to innovate and modernize curricula for the 21st century.

However, the development of divergent educational solutions faces several obstacles. Unfortunately, we advocate for bureaucracy rather than useful preparation of students for useful industries or research.

Furthermore, almost all published research at Kenyan higher education institutions is highly derived and only a small handful of Kenyan-produced research qualifies as world-leading or cutting-edge shaping industries.

Our march towards progress to keep up with global competitors is about to be hampered prospectively. The new extraordinarily regressive higher education bill currently in parliament is intended to amend the Universities Act of 2012 and give the Cabinet Secretary of Education final authority to hire and fire university council members or ignore any decision they make.

Essentially, it eliminates the bottom-up local governance enjoyed in the vast majority of universities around the world. Despite the fact that counties are not in charge of postsecondary education facilities, the bill still contradicts the spirit and principles of the transfer of powers whereby local communities can make the best decisions for themselves.

The bill also limits the number of deputy vice chancellors to three. The tertiary education space in our beloved land is already overregulated with enforced rules on university governance structures.

TVETs are already forced to use a standard curriculum rather than relying on the experts they hire to tailor unique solutions to their specific local demographics or react to new frameworks and research.

In what other industry should leaders have their hands tied behind their back without authority? Is telecommunications limited in the number of accountants they can hire? Are software developers limited to the number of programmers they incorporate?

No. Every organization must make the best decision for itself rather than a forced hierarchy. The insurance industry already suffers from excessive regulation and now our higher education institutions will too.

Next, will the Cabinet Secretary of Agriculture dictate that only the vegetables he likes best are the ones we are allowed to feed our children? Will the Cabinet Secretary of Energy then force us to buy just enough electricity to light our houses for only the limited number of hours a day that she is at home herself?

What if the Cabinet Foreign Secretary limits our trips abroad to only your favorite destinations? These are all ridiculous examples. But where is the line? Where will it stop? Millions of Kenyans wish that our parliamentarians could also legislate with common sense.

We must use the results to judge our institutions, not bureaucratic straitjackets. As examples, are our students prepared for the workforce? Do our institutions provide cutting-edge research that propels Kenya to compete and lead on a global scale?

Standardization kills innovation, destroys creativity, and destroys the ability to compete on a global scale. Even institutional education audits focus on how many meetings are held, for example, rather than the outcome of those meetings.

Reasons that an organization may force centralization of decisions include organizational crises, management’s desire for total control, increasing consistency, and reducing costs by eliminating duplication of effort.

However, the reasons for decentralizing decisions include the complexity of the entity in terms of large size or diversity of operations or stakeholders. If leadership wants empowerment and autonomy to meet localized needs, it also uses decentralized decision making.

Decisions centralized in massive entities or ministries lead to a forced standardization mismatch that will actually be less likely to meet customer (student) needs and slower to respond to the market dynamics of changing industry demands.

In short, let’s avoid the Trumpian temptation to over-control everything. Top down doesn’t work. Final point. Period. Bureaucracy makes things worse, not better. Hopefully human-centered design will remain the technique of how new laws and policies are made in the future.

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Dr. Scott can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter: @ScottProfessor

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