Last Saturday, October 24, there was a horrendous incident in Egypt. A train traveling at full speed rammed into another and caused the death of 18 people and wounded 36.
The incident happened when one train made an unscheduled stop because its driver had seen a water buffalo on its track. The second train, traveling in the same direction and on the same track preceded without knowledge of the accident ahead. The inevitable happened. People died.
Now, come Tuesday and the country’s transportation minister Mohammed Mansur took responsibility for the accident and resigned. Please note that the minister was not the driver of either of the trains, and neither was he in charge of buffalos and other wild animals, but he resigned.
When this story came up, my colleagues and I immediately reignited an earlier debate which had ended on a stalemate: who should take responsibility for the 100-plus form four students who are not sitting the ongoing KCSE exams because school heads pocketed their registration fees?
There is one school of thought in our newsroom which holds that the Ministry of Education bears no culpability over the matter. They argue that the Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) or other departments within the ministry had no way of knowing that some unscrupulous headmaster somewhere was being sly with poor students’ cash.
Such students and their parents, they add, should bear the responsibility of checking with KNEC to ensure they are dully registered to sit the examinations.
A few colleagues and I hold a contrary opinion – on which thank the Lord – we have been boosted by the Egyptian minister. Kenya’s Education Ministry is charged with the responsibility of ensuring quality education in Kenya. It is why you and I pay taxes for the salaries and other resources that are to be used by Provincial and District education officers whose job is to inspect each school and ascertain that everything is running to order.
Let’s leave Minister Sam Ongeri for a moment. How about Mr Ali Mwakwere over at Transcom House or his counterpart Soita Shitanda at the Housing Ministry?
If these two gentlemen were in Egypt, Mr Mwakwere should have resigned long ago for the many road accidents across the country. Mr Shitanda should bear full responsibility for the Kiambu (and scores of other) building’s collapse.
In fact if this was Egypt, we would be having 40 new faces attending the next Cabinet meeting at State House.
But then again, this is Kenya, not Egypt.