LETTERS: Shed light on education reforms to end confusion


Education secretary Fred Matiang’i. FILE PHOTO | NMG

If there is anything educationists must be concerned about as the year begins is whether key actors and policy implementers understand the road that the reform agenda has taken.

The extent to which the country’s education trajectory and policy shifts still elicit mixed reactions, anxiety and a general lack of awareness from key segments of the supposed critical support base is baffling.

I have, for instance, interacted with a number of players in the sector who are supposed to usher in the new education system.

What is worrying is that despite having gone through some induction process, very few have adequate if a not total grasp of what awaits them and what the new dispensation entails.

This brings to the fore the need to deliberately unpackage the reform agenda and driving force so as to ameliorate implementation anxiety, hiccups and any unintended negative consequences.

That the country has witnessed increased and sustained rapid reforms in quick succession for four years running cannot be overemphasised.

From basic to higher levels, key areas such as accountability, examinations management and reforms, system transformation, human resource management and financing have borne the brunt of reforms.

I hold the view that institutional reforms are not haphazardly designed by people but consciously emerge over time as a response mechanism to societal and system need.

Unless everyone realises that this is the driving force behind the reform agenda in the sector, a distributional struggle that pits groups and stakeholders against one another will be inevitable.

We owe ourselves some sense of relative stability in 2018 and beyond. This can only be possible if we acknowledge the double-edged potent that comes with reforms.

What is popularly known as punctuated equilibrium continues to be advanced in modern change management practices. It recognises the inherent disruptive power of change and advocates for long periods of stability that are punctuated by programmed and timed shocks that catapult institutions to the next desired notch.

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As a nation, we ought to appreciate why the river needs to change course at times. When we are cognisant of where we are coming from and remain alive to our collective aspirations, we will give our support and avoid unnecessary inertia.

Equally important is for the education sector managers not to ignore concerns of the people, however informal the segment might be.

As a matter of fact, the informal components of any sector broadens the stakeholder base and can determine whether change succeeds or fails. Their hidden channels of influence cannot be wished away and trivialised as it can tip the balance of transformation.

Whatever it will take to ensure that endless states of instability, re-adjustment, workforce fatigue and anxiety are kept off the education sector should be pursued.

Allan Onunga, secondary school teacher