Thursday, May 24, 2012

It’s not the education, stupid!

On hearing that a case had been filed in Court challenging the Elections Act 2011 Clause that demands a Degree as a pre-requisite for politicians vying for elective office, I sniggered. Later, however, I went on an empirical expedition.  Is Uneducated = / ≠ Stupid? (methinksnot!).  Education and Stupidity are not necessarily mutually exclusive. It is therefore possible to have large doses of these elements co-existing merrily in one individual (I daresay!). Agreed, leaders must possess mental experience and intellectual mettle to rationally and analytically solve problems and make things happen in this country. However, and thankfully, these skills are not the exclusive reserve of the university-educated folk. I know this how? I know graduates, freshly and not-so-freshly baked from our local universities, who are exceptional in their thinking and logic. I have also interacted with graduates, whose reasoning and logic stand on their heads, painfully struggling to sustain a thread of thought to its logical conclusion. This reality begs for radical adjustments to the education system, if we are to improve the quality of graduates churned out every year. I have also met a few ‘un-Universitied’ Kenyans, who hold their own, brilliantly. My semi-illiterate maternal grand-father, for example, had the kind of business acumen, decisiveness and uncommon analytical ability that many a business graduate would marvel at. Life experience had strengthened the sinews of his understanding over the years, to good effect. I ask: Will this nation sacrifice great leadership at the altar of university education? To shut out an individual from vying for an elective office on the grounds of educational dwarfism, is not only infringing the rights of the individual, but, kicking democracy in the teeth. This one elitist Act locks out millions of Kenyans who have neither had the stipulated schooling; nor engaged the services of the ‘researchers-for-hire’ to do their CATs, Term Papers and Thesis at a fee; or worse still, paid the counterfeit-masters on River-Road a courtesy call to enable them buy-and-comply with the exclusionary Certificate requirement. In essence, what we require are not leaders strutting around with their university degrees, but patriotic men and women of noble character and with logically sound minds. We are starved of clear-thinking leaders whose hearts and thoughts are touched by the plight of young people wasting away their youth, idling, for lack of gainful engagement. Where are the leaders who will not turn a deaf ear to the cries of fellow Kenyans still languishing in IDP camps? Show me a Kenyan who will not turn a blind eye or stretch their arms to share loot stolen from struggling Kenyans and I will show you a politician who will not need to buy my vote. Dire economic times notwithstanding! Truth be told, if and when a Kenyan of this calibre chooses to vie for elective office, come the next General Election, I shall throw the full weight of my vote behind them. I refuse to dismiss them on the frivolous grounds of ‘paper-lessness’. Shoot! Given: Education is great, and by no means an intellectual luxury. But, integrity, strength of character and clarity of thought are way greater. Sigh! In the face of the current crop of educated politicians ruining, oops, running our affairs from the August House, this comment is so obvious that it should be unnecessary to make.