Ministerial jobs in Kenya have for long been treated as gifts awarded to close political confidants with no due regard to their education background.
A new Private Member’s Bill to be tabled in Parliament soon now seeks to reverse this trend. The Offices of Minister Bill 2009 being spearheaded by Turkana MP Ekwe Ethuro seeks to make advanced education a condition for appointment to the Cabinet.
The Bill is simply seeking to lock out MPs who do not have degrees out of the Cabinet.
The proposed legislation is welcome as there is need to come up with minimum educational qualifications for our leaders. The current regime has allowed Ministers manage their dockets without interference and there is need to ensure that they are up to the task. This can only be achieved by ensuring minimum education qualifications for such a crucial job as a ministerial portfolio.
Adverts in the local dailies show that almost every employer of today requires his prospective employees to have some form of educational qualification and extending this to those managing our great nation will certainly help instil professionalism into leadership.
I have heard the argument that good qualifications do not necessarily mean good performance justified by the many ministers who have served in the Cabinet, some quite successfully, yet without degrees. These one-off occurrences should, however, not be used to frustrate the good intentions of the Bill. Furthermore we all know how billions of shillings have gone unaccounted for and some of the shady deals could be attributed to lack of professional leadership.
As much as experience is important, knowledge gives one the impetus to develop the necessary management skill.
I fully support this requirement and propose that it also applies to MPs and councillors. Just as education is an eligibility criterion for employment into any sector in the country, MPs who carry oversight on the management of billions of shillings of tax payer’s money should not be an exemption.
Why do I say so?
The first thing that strikes me about education is knowledge gain. Education is about knowing that everything has a science to it. It is about learning to reason everything till every question meets its answer. Education brings up questions and also devises ways to find satisfactory answers to them. It is education that builds in every individual a confidence to take decisions, to face life and to accept successes and failures.
I know that there are debates whether education is the only thing that gives knowledge. Some say education is the process of gaining information about the surrounding world while knowledge is something very different. They are partly right. But the conversion of information to knowledge is possible because of education. Education makes us capable of interpreting rightly the things perceived.
Education is about the lessons of life.
The words ‘cultivate’ and ‘civilize’ are almost synonymous to the word ‘educate’. That says it! Education is important as it teaches us the right behavior, the good manners thus making us civilized. It teaches us how to lead our lives. It is the basis of culture and civilization. It is instrumental in the development of our values and virtues.
Education cultivates us into mature individuals capable of planning our futures and taking the right decisions. Our leaders must not escape this drill.
More so, I propose that ministers be appointed to dockets that reflect their professional qualifications. It does not help to appoint an engineer into the health ministry or vice versa. This will give the leader a head start and eliminate ugly scenes witnessed in the past where Ministers have been unable to answer crucial queries about their dockets or were made to hire interpreters during meetings with foreign dignitaries from English speaking countries.
More interesting about this Bill is that it wants to limit the number of ministries to a maximum of 24 and this would enable the country save millions of shillings.
Our MPs must be told that the future of our nation is safe in the hands of educated individuals. Education is important for the economic growth of a nation. It fosters principles of equality and socialism. Education is thus the backbone of society.
MPs must support the Bill if Kenya is to achieve Vision 2030 goals.
I hope MPs will not frustrate the enactment of this noble piece of legislation.