• The government is undertaking reforms in basic education, technical and vocation training and in higher education.
• The reforms have far-reaching implications on the future of Kenya as a nation.
For 10 days, the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms chaired by Raphael Munavu met stakeholders in all the 47 counties.
The stakeholders had the opportunity to express their concerns over the ongoing education reforms. The government is undertaking reforms in basic education, technical and vocation training and in higher education. The reforms have far-reaching implications on the future of Kenya as a nation.
The working party is seeking to get citizens’ views on the education their children are getting. It is expected to make appropriate recommendations to the government to improve the capacity of education and training institutions to nurture, to the best possible extent, the innate capacity for knowledge, skills and talent development and acquisition, all children have.
It is also seeking citizens’ views on the workable frameworks that can deliver the rigour and breadth of the education it will recommend, in a cost-effective manner.
The venues of the meetings attracted people of all ages, educational levels and social status. Their appearance demonstrated many insights, from a public relations perspective, worthy noting.
First, that education holds hopes for people of all ages, and status in all the communities across the country. Illiterate and the literate alike, parents, children, religious and business and community leaders, see education is a valuable in their lives. They see light in education, for the future of their communities. Without education, they see darkness in the future. All of them want the best education for their children, regardless of the circumstances they face.
A stakeholder travelled all the way from Kakuma Refugee Camp to Lodwar town, over 100km away, to present their views to the a team.
Second, the citizens have views regarding various aspects of education that can inform decision-makers during formulation and implementation of education policy, curricular, standards and examinations.
They presented views on the quality of education schools are providing and salient factors that make for quality education: From teacher availability, to classrooms among others.
Most of the stakeholders made shrewd contrasts and comparisons between the CBC and the early phase of the 8-4-4 system.
They gave highly intelligent and lucid views on the various aspects of education in the context of the terms of reference, which team leaders of each of the teams, apprised them with at the beginning of the town hall meetings.
The third insight I gleaned from the marathon 10-day public hearings was that Kenyans would like to walk with the government in all that affects them. They want the government to listen to them as it serves them. Walking together at every policymaking process is important for many reasons.
Success in any policy measure, programme, project, initiative and action depends on the knowledge, interest, acceptance and unqualified support of the stakeholders. Implied in this is that an organisation must create two-way line of communication between itself and the relevant stakeholders or the publics.
The absence of bridges for communication creates walls between an organisation, a programme, project or initiative and stakeholders or intended beneficiaries of the policy action. Unwillingness to engage the public generates ignorance, apathy, prejudice and hostility to the policy, programme, project, initiative or action.
However, recognition of the stakeholders invariably means an organisation engages the public at all times and eliminates whatever ignorance, apathy, prejudice and hostility that an action might meet by inducing knowledge, interest, acceptance and unqualified support for its action. Amity between an organisation and its stakeholders eases the road for policy formulation and its implementation.
The fourth insight is that even children and ordinary people have views that have the potential to shine light on critical aspects of a policy that may inadvertently escape the knowledge and appreciation of an organisation and adults.
A Grade 6 learner from Kidiwa Primary School in Eldoret town praised CBC, saying it provides practical oriented learning experiences. The boy, however, said CBC should also encourage reading, writing and numeracy.
In education, basic skills are critical for later learning in higher grades: upper primary, secondary, and tertiary and university education. Although the boy’s submission was less than two minutes, it generated laughter and a lot of conversation among the stakeholders.
Personally, the boy pleasantly surprised me — knowing from my education and experience, how critical reading fluency, ability to read and write and also the numeracy is to advanced education, careers and in government, industry and in the church.
Another unlikely source of insightful submission came from an Imam in Eldoret town. The Imam urged the government to take into account the Madrassa system of education in its education reform initiative. He said the envisioned curriculum and placement of junior secondary school grades should not interfere with the Madrasa system of education for Muslim children.
Indeed, a decision to walk with the citizens on education reform is set to provide valuable information that will help the government to provide quality and affordable education in an efficient and effective manner.