The dying of former Kenyan schooling minister Professor George Magoha, 71, closes a vibrant chapter in schooling policymaking and management. It was a chapter marked by unmatched dedication to instructional reforms, however equally colored by controversy and missteps.
Magoha was the cupboard secretary for schooling from 2019 to 2022. He additionally served because the chairman of the Kenya Nationwide Examinations Council from 2016 to 2019.
He was forceful and uncompromising, each underneath President Uhuru Kenyatta and in the course of the transition to William Ruto.
His affect is unmistakable in greater schooling, primary schooling, and in nationwide examinations in Kenya.
For instance, Magoha captured the general public creativeness when he took over the helm of the Kenya Nationwide Examination Council in 2016. This adopted huge examination fraud. Subtle syndicates involving examination officials, faculty heads and academics had taken over the conduct of examinations. This had led to huge examination leakages, to the detriment of deprived colleges and college students.
Magoha changed the highest officers of the council, and ensured their acolytes within the area and colleges had been dismissed. He and his various staff visited examination centres on inspection and invigilation periods, typically excluding council officers. On the finish of his three-year tenure the examination cartels had been vanquished and exam credibility restored.
Nevertheless, Magoha’s hands-on administration fashion, whereas laudable, veered into micromanagement. This left many area schooling officers hamstrung within the execution of their duties. Somewhat than give attention to coverage initiatives and oversight, the purview of cupboard secretaries, his go to to colleges on inspection and implementation excursions left area officers with little to do.
As well as, he tried to micromanage the College of Nairobi by usurping the position of the college council in reforms and appointments. His efforts had been solely thwarted by the judiciary following a mutual settlement.
Magoha’s public service embodied contradictions. He confirmed Kenyans what dedication to instructional management was. And what it was not.
College of Nairobi
Magoha’s lengthy profession in schooling included educating on the College of Nairobi’s Medical Faculty. Skilled in Nigeria, Ghana, Eire and the UK, he rose quickly by way of the ranks from an assistant lecturer to professor. He held a variety of administrative appointments. These included chair of the surgical procedure division, dean of the varsity of drugs, principal of the faculty of well being sciences, deputy vice-chancellor of finance and administration (2002-2005), and eventually, vice-chancellor from 2005 to 2015.
Inside effectivity was his mantra. Because the vice-chancellor, he remodeled the establishment from an inefficient, absolutely state-funded college to an environment friendly state-owned college largely funded by personal sources.
When he took over because the deputy vice-chancellor (finance and administration) and as vice-chancellor, the college was in a monetary disaster. State grants had continued to decline at the same time as pupil enrolment elevated. On the identical time income-generating actions remained weak.
He oversaw the expansion of personal revenues and the creation of the College of Nairobi Enterprise and Providers to handle all income-generating actions.
By 2003 the highly successful self-sponsored programme had 22,000 college students and generated Ksh. 3 billion (US$130 million).
His efficiency-oriented management style noticed him introduce efficiency targets for each educating and non-teaching workers. Previous to this workers had labored with out efficiency contracts and the attendant evaluations. As a vice-chancellor he launched a system of contract renewal primarily based on efficiency, the right-sizing of items (departmental mergers and letting go of redundant workers) and the fast outcome initiatives (the place companies had been delivered on the agreed timeline).
He was additionally deeply involved by the rising tide of pupil strikes. To control pupil affairs, he devised a consultative management fashion underneath which student leaders had direct access to his office. He invested in a system of direct session with college students to debate problems with quick concern. In consequence the college skilled the lowest levels of student disruptions in the course of the 10 years of his management.
Magoha oversaw the implementation of Kenya’s new competence-based curriculum studying in 2017. Within the midst of criticism and issues, he was unyielding as its chief advocate, declaring the brand new system was there to remain.
His messianic method noticed him journey to colleges to examine the development of services to point out progress. It additionally included addressing stakeholders to soften resistance.
Magoha will even be remembered for effectively spearheading faculty reopening and reforms amid a devastating COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly one 12 months after closure, he ordered the reopening of faculties on the advice of a job drive he had established. He personally supervised their reopening despite protests and concern. He by no means second guessed his determination, stating:
We’re assured that we are going to stay on the suitable trajectory to discovering the profitable system that can guarantee our studying establishments are secure for learners and academics.
However his successes, Magoha had vulnerabilities. His in depth commercialisation of the College of Nairobi elicited questions in regards to the high quality of educational studying in self-sponsored programmes.
Early 2016, the state moved to shut down the programmes and abolish branch campuses within the college and in all public universities.
Magoha additionally lacked the reasonable temperament required for top profile public workplace. In a match of anger he publicly humiliated a county director of schooling, calling him a “idiot” and kicking him out of his entourage.
This resulted in his being stripped of his human resource powers by the general public service fee.
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