In John 2: 13-16, the Bible records Jesus’ visit to the temple in Jerusalem. He found livestock and poultry traders, and moneychangers doing business. Jesus made a whip of cords and drove them all out of the temple. He ejected t moneychangers and overturned tables. “Do not make my Father’s house a house of merchandise”, Jesus said to them.
Kenya’s education, especially the examination process, has been a shameful temple of merchandise for nearly three decades. Top ten slots were for sale to the highest bidder. A thick and well-oiled cartel traded in examination papers, influenced grading and scoring of scripts and had the last word on school rankings. Parents could negotiate grades directly with officials at the Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC).
Elite private primary school, also known as academies, thrived. They charged high fees and invested hugely in cheating, paying for ranking and using multiple registration centres to guarantee high mean scores. Similarly, elite public secondary schools, also known as national schools, used their high enrollment numbers and financial advantage to purchase examination materials and influence test scores and ranking.
High school principles are minor deities; officials at Jogoo House and KNEC worship have them on speed dial and worship the ground they walk on. Education in this country almost ceased to be about teaching and learning and preparing the next generation of citizens. Education had become a house of exchange of just three things; money, grades and rankings. Students became pawns in the game. Grades and ranking become something like dope, to which schools, parents and students got hooked to.
Successive education ministers and top officials at Jogoo House were inducted into the immoral orgy and baptized in oodles of bribe cash. These individuals were eaten up by zeal for loot. But not the current Education Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiangi. CS Matiangi is consumed by zeal for our children and the credibility of our education system.
Under CS Matiangi’s indomitable, and I dare say abrasive and egotistical, resolve confidence is beginning to return to Kenya’s education system and especially, KNEC. Stringent management and administration of KCPE has paid off hugely. CS Matiangi is the man of the moment. He is Kenya’s knight in shining armor.
At a time when our country is staggered by the gales of grand corruption, what CS Matiangi has achieved in the department of education must give us hope. CS Matiangi gives us hope that we can vanquish the evil forces of corruption at work in our society. He gives us hope that Kenya’s education sector will not be a house of merchandise.
CS Matiangi could have chosen the gravy path like his predecessors; taken the loot and looked the other way as our education system goes to the dogs. CS Matiangi gives us hope that there are Kenyans who are willing to risk everything, resist the charm of sleaze and put Kenya first. Can his cabinet colleagues emulate his example?