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Effects of Devolved Government on Learning Institutions

Our colonial history confirms that most of Kenya’s development was deliberately restricted to 160 kilometers of either side of the Kenya-Uganda railway. This was so, because the colonial government needed to demonstrate the viability of a railway that had cost millions of British tax payers’ money. To this end, towns and centers within the defined mileage astride the railway were developed so much so that, that is what defined Kenya for years. The effects of these are evident to date. Our five major towns and cities are the key highlights of the railway land marks.

 

The areas away from the railway, received little attention and hence, the reason that most institutions of Learning at all levels, are concentrated along the railway. Devolution in its true sense, it is hoped, will ensure that the effects of the colonial blue print will be done away with. The equalization fund is one such mechanism to bridge the gap in disadvantaged areas.

 

Our institutions have leveraged on existing infrastructure to expand. Take the case of our universities many of which have satellite campuses in all major towns. It is worth noting, that devolution, will impact on the different levels of learning institutions. Let us begin with our education system as we know it today.

 

Primary schools will definitely benefit from increased funding to the county governments. The sensitive nature of education in this country and, the legal requirement to have all children enjoying basic education; will definitely encourage spending on schooling. With this, will be the need for more teachers. The counties that get it right will attract pupils from less ambitious counties and thus growing a market for consumables.  The schools hitherto enjoying good infrastructural advantages and prime locations will have to pull up their socks because the competition brought about by an equalizing constitution will be fast and furious. It is anticipated, that the slowdown in rural-urban migration, will impact somehow negatively on town schools.

 

Secondary Schools will equally experience most of what their juniors will be going through. With a national school in every county envisaged to be in place, challenges of national integration may emerge because, parents will prefer a minimum schooling distance approach especially, if going far away from home is no longer tenable through standards. Rules on quotas for students coming from across the country will be difficult to achieve under such circumstances. Population growth and an increase of available money for education will drive growth in size and number of schools. These in turn will drive up the employment of teachers and none-teaching staff.

 

Tertiary institutions such as those offering certificates and diplomas will grow. Kenya is transforming into a knowledge economy and will increase its dependence on people with formal knowledge, to drive developmental objectives. To this end, a trend will emerge, where older citizens who had not reached these levels, will enroll in tertiary institutions alongside those graduating from secondary schools. With a better life expectancy today, mature age entry students will be on the increase. Again, there will be need for more tutors and institutions.

 

Universities as we can see today will continue to expand and new ones will come up. A number of reasons will make this possible. First, the minimum learning distance policy supported by most parents will see students learn from nearby. These days, we do not have the 80s and 90s hype of sending students to India, the United States, England et al. People will also have a wider choice of disciplines to choose from. There will also be an increase in people pursuing Masters and Doctoral degrees. Secondly, Universities as part of the ecosystem will play a key role in providing thought leadership to the communities that they exist in. Relevant research will be made possible by proximity to the needs. What was only possible through government extension officers will be possible with the help of universities.

 

The government has played a big role in upgrading tertiary institutions into universities across the country. Universities, tend to bring about university towns which in turn, stabilize the economies of their respective locations. Thousands of consumers are good for business. Such business would not have been possible if devolution was not introduced.

 

Now let us move on to the unconventional institutions of learning. An economy will not grow on academics alone. Sources of income should be as we can now see, expanded to include entertainment and sports. The new policy on having 60% of television content being local, will spur talent in entertainment as more comedies and programs come on board. These will now become a sustainable industry and will require institutions that nature such talent. Soccer academies will now sprout as well as a myriad of other none academic institutions across the country.

 

Devolved governments will guarantee increased circulation of money and talent in areas that had no institutions before. Growth is total meaning that we shall see activity in the building sector as new facilities come up, more banks cashing in on teachers and just about all other sectors getting their share. All in all, inter county competition will strive to minimize student exportation on account of better facilities because overall ,it will boil down to taking money away from the county.

 

So, in all these, who stands to benefit the most? Everyone will be a winner in this new dispensation. With more money in circulation from the activities around learning, all businesses within the vicinities of these institutions stand to gain. The farming community will find steady markets and so will hand-men who will no longer see jobs as few and far between.

 

There will be need for more cars hence the insurers will have a field day for property and life insurance. If we get our collective act together, then even our neighbouring countries, will want their children to school in Kenya. This will help in enhancing regional integration. 

 

It is in everyone’s interest, that the devolved systems of government, takes off so please do not take off yourself. Your country needs you.

 

Mr Mugun is the director of Special Projects at the Strathmore Business School and author of ‘How to Undo Life’s Airlocks’ and ‘10 Critical Success Answers for SMEs’.

 

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