Here’s what ails Kenya’s education system


Education perhaps plays the most important role in human development. Such development covers several dimensions of human well-being.

Social change is one of the critical dimensions. Research now reveals that earlier educationists used to show a specific way of life to the students and education was more a means of social control than an instrument of social change.

Modern educational institutions increasingly do not place much emphasis upon transferring a way of life to the students. However, there is evidence that education is progressively being misused to bring social disorder.

The concept of social development was popularised by the United Nations in 1995 (the Copenhagen Declaration- “World Summit for Social Development”) , which came up with the principles set out in the Millennium Development Goals.

James Midgley envisaged social development as a “process of planned social change designed to promote the well-being of the population as a whole in conjunction with a dynamic process of economic development”.


The goal of social development in the context of modern welfare is to produce a social well-being that makes people capable of acting and making their own decisions in the broadest sense.

It is emerging that there is a significant number of non-state agents who are using education to make the narrowest sense.

Learning to assemble explosives not for the welfare of humanity but to destroy mankind, blowing up churches, searching for dangerous mass destruction chemicals, killing and maiming innocent people in the name of religion.

Instead of condoling victims of the unfortunate situation, we now hear leaders and civil society groups crying justice and human rights as if nothing has happened.

Is it not a violation of the universal declaration of human rights when we selectively apply its principles to those shooting innocent children like Satrine? In the broadest sense, we should be worrying about the patience of those who have suffered from senseless acts of terrorism.

Alia Brahimi in ‘‘The Taliban’s Evolving Ideology,’’ tells us “that terrorist organisations are learning organisations.

In a Taliban propaganda video, a commander is shown touring a roomful of young men working on computers.

Once notorious for their ultra-orthodox interpretation of Islam which prescribed a complete aversion to all manifestations of modernity, the Taliban now appear to have mastered innovations in technology and put them to optimal use in their insurgency”.

Al-Shabaab a jihadist group based in Somalia is responsible for many of the attacks in Kenya. The group has also been suspected of having links with Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb, Taliban in Afghanistan and Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Whilst terrorists study their targets with great detail, the general populace rarely know who these people are beyond their operational group names.

It would help much if part of our school/college curriculum is dedicated to understanding the psychology of these emerging terrorists groups, how they formed, why they are violent, their methods of operation and more.

Further in the same breadth, we need to educate the public to be cautious with people they are not familiar with, report to police suspicious characters.

Above all, we must teach patriotism to Kenyans, suspend identity cards issued in the past 20 years and re-register genuine Kenyans while profiling any foreigner in the country.

We then must leverage on technology to learn more about those who abuse our generosity and threaten our peace.

This is a collaborative effort to ensure the security of our people. In the wake of possible hijack of the Malaysian airliner by the pilots, there is reason to put some jobs under strict surveillance. No one knows what else these terrorists have in their sleeves as they continue to learn and innovate.

Education was meant to help mankind become an agent of social change, but this is being undermined by rebellious elements. By educating more people on the psychology of these elements, we can defeat terrorists.

As Irish novelist, poet and broadcaster Clive Staples Lewis once said: “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.”

The writer is a Senior Lecturer, University of Nairobi and a former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Communication.