DEVOLVING education to the counties will be the biggest mistake this country can make. Most counties have shown that they are dens of corruption and nepotism and cannot be entrusted with national resources for the general population. The threat of sending CDF funds to the counties sends chills down my spine.
In 2014, I was a lecturer at Maasai Mara University, Mumias Campus, where I was always discriminated against and witch-hunted because I was from outside the county. A year later, I am still waiting to be paid, yet my colleagues from Kakamega county were paid immediately. That is one example of why education must never be devolved to the counties.
Shiru ward in Vihiga county, where I come from, is also a
vivid exemplification of nepotism at its highest because all county jobs are held by one ruling dynasty. Development committee members are headed, and bursary recipients selected, by members of one family. 'Accountability' is absent from the Shiru ward vocabulary. The ward is a mirror of what Vihiga county services are like. If education takes this trend, it will be a serious loss to this nation. That is why the recent demonstrations against University of Eldoret Vice Chancellor Prof Theresa Akenga must be condemned. We can not allow mobs to disrupt learning instead of following laid down channels. That is another example why education must never be devolved to the counties.
Some counties like Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru and Kiambu have a head start over others because they are already well-endowed with public universities, middle level colleges, well-equipped primary and high schools, state hospitals, tarmac roads and factories and are independent in terms of jobs and provision of basics services. But other counties like Vihiga, Busia and Turkana are ‘landlocked’ and do not have even a single university, government hospital or factory. Devolving education at this moment will catch them unawares and disadvantage students.
Counties are already overwhelmed with the few functions that have been devolved to them like health, roads and public service. Adding education will be a serious blunder for the Republic of Kenya. How will the counties manage the setting, marking and securing of examinations until the appointed moment of administration? Some counties will abolish KCPE and KCSE; others will set easy examinations so that their children can pass and give the county a good name. Devolving education will lower standards and quality assurance will just be a thing of the past. Which parent would want their child to fail an examination? Parents will spend all they can to ensure their kids get the best grades and quality will be thrown out through the window. Parents will hunt down examiners and either reward them in advance or punish them afterwards for the grades of their children. Devolution of education will spur cheating in examinations and must not be entertained at all costs.
If education devolved, children will leave home and attend nearby primary, high schools and universities — all in their counties. Children will speak their local languages, play the same sports and sing the same songs with their childhood
friends. Kids will attend their local churches, hear their local pastors and they’ll learn no new ideas. In this way, devolving education will reinforce ethnicity, selfishness and social deviancy. Clanism will be entrenched. The variety of friends among youths will be limited which will lead to increased cases of incest and inbreeding. Mental and physical disabilities will rise in the population.
Devolving education will be taking away the only remaining strand of nationhood that is holding this country together. If education is devolved, you’ll hear of some counties seeking autonomy from the national government and that will be the starting of the balkanization and the disintegration of the Republic of Kenya.
D’Jivetti Mulaama, a lecturer and research fellow, is author of several books. [email protected]