Degree requirement for governors, senators and MPs was among a raft of recommendations the parliamentary Legal and Constitutional Affairs committee recently made to the National Assembly. And, predictably, the proposals have not gone down well with legislators who believe there is no linkage between academic degrees and capacity to lead, especially in a political national office.
True, there is neither a template nor guaranteed formula for leadership ability being tied to attaining university education. However, there’s no doubt about both the intrinsic and utilitarian values of education and the more, the better.
Individuals who command reasonable level of formal education are likely to be better endowed with stronger cognitive capacity, broadened vision, deeper knowledge base and wider analytical command than those challenged—and people who make laws are bound to gain from such qualities.
Philosophers dating back to Aristotle and Socrates, centuries ago, came to the conclusion that education nourishes the mind, is self-reinforcing and catalyses mental functions.
This is not fiction! The catalogue of responsibilities legislators execute with strong bearing on the nation’s life include law-making, steering the country in the path prescribed by the Constitution and oversight within the doctrine of separation of powers.
These roles entail tapping into the body of knowledge and reservoir of information which education bestows. It’s then that they can be effective seekers of solutions to the array of socio-economic challenges facing citizens.
Opinion on degrees for legislators is divided but what’s not, is that Kenyans are deeply apprehensive about civic virtues and integrity of leaders. If there is an area where more emphasis ought to be made then it is on accountability.
We all know what happened to Chapter Six of the Constitution that set relatively high integrity threshold for leadership but which tragically was watered down by lawmakers as they sought to self-preserve.
The 11th Parliament has among the most educated lot in both diversity of fields of study and specialisation yet on a scale of one to 10, only the more charitable observers would give them five in overall performance over the past three years.
Kenya can do much better in realisation of our dreams and visions. However, the key drawback we face is not level of education of leaders but the cocktail of impunity and infatuation with self-gain at the expense of the vulnerable taxpayer.
Of course, a reasonable level of education is critical for the efficacy of legislators but fidelity to values which promote national interest should be given precedence. Kenya needs more MPs, governors and senators who are less beholden to warped sense of entitlement and seven-figure wages but to servant leadership.