The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report recommends the adoption of a philosophy of education that puts emphasis on character and citizenship.
Previous commissions had encouraged a philosophy that caters for market needs, but little about responsible citizenship. Preparing learners solely to respond to ‘market needs’ has left out core tenets of holistic education.
The report sees education first as a means of providing opportunities for every citizen to participate in building the society. Equally important, the report recognised that knowledge, skills, and values are conjoined, and so schools have the responsibility to form character and values in learners.
Teddy Roosevelt once said that to educate a person in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society. We form and live in a complex society. For it to thrive, the education system should provide learners with market skills, while at the same time shaping their character.
The report recommends a philosophy that goes beyond academics and the Basic Education Curriculum Framework (BECF) seeks to cure this. The BECF, which is the blueprint for the competency-based curriculum (CBC), expresses concern that young people are growing up without values and psychosocial competencies needed to function as responsible citizens.
The BBI report reaffirms the issues that the BECF raises. This confirmation emboldens the Ministry of Education to give more attention to the indissoluble nexus between knowledge, skills and values.
Wide acceptance of the aspiration of education in the BBI report will give policy support to the structured reorganisation of the curriculum, learning and school environment in ways that will catalyse delivery of holistic education.
The reorganisation of education and schooling to align to this is not a complicated or expensive process. Character education entails training for honesty, courage, responsibility, kindness, compassion, sacrifice, loyalty to friends and country among other traits.
It also comes with dis-educating and discouraging through appropriate enculturation traits such as greed, selfishness, pride, cowardice, impatience and rigidity. What this means is that writers of history, literature and biographies have an obligation to develop characters in our texts that exemplify good traits and put on trial undesirable character.
Skilfully conceived curriculum programmes can invite students to discern the moral of stories, historical events and of famous lives, be they fictional or actual, and distinguish right from wrong.
While designing our reforms to reflect this new holistic trajectory, it’s worth remembering that example is more worthwhile than precept. Children learn from what they see more than what they hear or read. A moral example is more powerful in instilling virtues than teaching or pontificating about it.
Therefore, the values that teachers and parents espouse and live by are the most influential source of enculturation for our learners. School leadership will need to cultivate a value system within the institutions of learning such that there exists a school culture that supports the acquisition and development of values.
As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Intelligence is not enough, but that intelligence plus character is the goal of true education”. Luther’s reminder to America then, is quite relevant to us today.
Before amicus curiae became popular among Kenyans, there was nolle prosequi, that phrase we came to associate with the Attorney General whenever charges against some prominent pro-establishment guy were being withdrawn.
Today, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is part and parcel of daily Kenyan conversations especially when it comes to the much-publicized War on Graft with prominent persons being charged in court with some high profile convictions seen recently.
While conviction rates for other criminal trials have been well over 90%, there have been worryingly low rates of convictions in corruption-related crimes with acquittal rates often higher.
This trend is rapidly changing. The recently released Annual Report of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, 2020 demonstrates progressive increase in conviction rates in corruption trials obtained over the last three years from a low of 37.4 per cent in 2018 to a remarkable rate of 63.16 per cent in the first half of 2020.
During the half-year period up to June 2020, 26 cases were registered in court with 20 cases concluded despite the slowdown brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic containment measures. The monetary value involved in the cases registered in court from 2018 to June 2020 totals to Sh163.1 Billion.
Out of these, cases involving Sh3.9 billion were concluded between January 2018 and June 2020 with convictions accounting for 91.9 per cent of the amount, acquittals 5.4 per cent and withdrawal 2.7 per cent. Cases pending before the court as at June 30, 2020, involve an amount totalling Sh224 billion.
This has not been the practice in Kenya. With the 2010 Constitution-making ODPP the sole body responsible for Public Prosecutions and significant investment in human resources and technology, DPP Haji has been able to implement a similar system here.
He has adopted a new strategy where Prosecution guided investigations are the norm with prosecutors giving technical guidance to investigators in the course of their investigations. Working together with other agencies under President Kenyatta’s Multi-Agency Task Team (MATT), the ODPP has been able to speed up investigations to ensure that justice is served quickly and efficiently.
As a result, MATT has been part of investigative teams led by the ODPP to ensure that all aspects of corruption cases are dealt with before prosecutions are initiated to ensure only those cases where evidence is air-tight are taken to court. As a result of this new approach, an impressive conviction rate has been seen over the last three years.
Other strategies include use of experts in various fields such as financial analysts, forensic experts and procurement experts among others; capacity building that includes training prosecutors in thematic areas involving corruption and economic crimes, the appointment of special prosecutors to provide expertise in complex cases and finally the adoption of the ‘Follow the money approach,’ which is aimed at disrupting the flow and distribution of proceeds of crime.
There was a total of 135 high impact cases involving more than 224 billion pending before the court as of June 30, 2020. At least 57 per cent of these cases were registered January 2018 and June 2020 while 43 per cent were registered before 2018.
Cases registered from 2018 to June 2020 involved amounts totalling to over Sh157 billion whereas those registered in 2017 and before involved amounts totalling to Sh67 billion. This is a clear illustration of the concerted effort put by ODPP in collaboration with stakeholders in the three years in the fight against graft.
The DPP acknowledges that effective and efficient prosecution of corruption and economic crimes cases is a result of the strengthened inter-agency collaboration and co-operation, application of prosecution guided investigations, capacity building and sensitization of prosecutors and investigators.
DPP should continue to pursue this multi-agency approach to identify challenges in the fight against corruption and recommend remedial measures. The War on Graft is firmly on course and DPP should be given support by all Kenyans of goodwill.
Besides negative ethnicity, no issue is as divisive and as emotive in Kenya as land. For decades since independence, disputes on land ownership and use have triggered tribal clashes, with extensive destruction of property and, more often, loss of lives.
When the steering committee of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) toured the country collecting views on proposed changes to the Constitution, land featured prominently among the issues brought forward.
According to the BBI committee report, thousands of Kenyans presented complaints about fraudulent land dealings, seeking to have the potent subject looked into as the country changes its laws. Consequently, the committee warned that deep-seated fraud in land transactions threatens to “totally undermine integrity of the country’s land registration system”.
Land grabbing, disputed ownership, mismanagement of land registries, fake land documents, irregular allocation of public land to private use and embedded corruption within the Ministry of Lands and land offices have been a thorn in the flesh of Kenyans since independence.
The net effect of these ills has been loss of billions of shillings by Kenyans to cons, a situation that the BBI report hopes to remedy. Foremost, if the report and its recommendations are endorsed to become law, the Ministry of Lands will have the power to revoke fraudulently and unlawfully acquired title documents.
Ordinarily and legally, it’s enough to carry out an official search at the lands registry only to ascertain the real owner of a piece of land before buying it. Occasionally though, the records conflict with the real ownership of the parcel in question, therefore, misleading the buyer.
It’s for this reason that the integrity of title deeds held by thousands of Kenyans remains a subject of contention. Currently, the law favours holders of “valid documents” when disputes arise, thus punishing genuine buyers of land who may have been duped to pay money for land whose ownership is contested.
The communities also appealed for the speedy formulation of policy frameworks to resolve land disputes among communities through alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms and traditional justice systems. Furthermore, the communities called for security and protection of land rights through issuance of title deeds.
Since 2013 when the Jubilee government came to power, more than five million title deeds have been issued to Kenyans. “We are solving the land question by issuing title deeds so that Kenyans can put their land to productive use without fear of losing their property,” President Uhuru said in Nairobi when issuing 10,000 title deeds to residents of Samburu County.
If recommendations of the BBI are implemented, communal land will be returned to the community when leasehold land ownership by non-citizens expires. Pastoral communities in Kenya want communal land to be registered under the community’s name. This will see large swathes of land in Narok, Kajiado, Samburu, Laikipia, Marsabit, and Turkana counties registered afresh.
Interestingly, the report proposes review of tax on land, commonly referred as land rates, to relieve owners of small parcels of land who often struggle to pay levies to the government.
Government officials who facilitate graft in lands offices through processing fraudulent title documents and those who have been involved in such schemes will now face “serious punitive action” under the new recommendations.
Should the report be endorsed to become law, a commission/taskforce will be assembled to address historical land injustices and contested communal land rights. Historically, Kenya has had two broad categories of land owners: those with very large underutilised and unutilised tracts of land and those with tiny parcels that hardly sustain their needs.
While it doesn’t propose to bridge this ownership gap, if implemented, the report promises to put paid to the decade-old tugs-of-war pitting communities and individuals in the country.
Government procurement entities will be required to adhere to strict regulations such as carrying out due diligence on bidders to lockout briefcase companies. The amendments fronted in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report aim at weeding out cases where companies with no track record of service delivery are awarded contracts they can’t meet.
The amendments seek to lay out in considerable detail the duties of a procuring entity which includes undertaking due diligence on prospective bidders. The country has lost billions of shillings to quack companies that are created days before the tender deadlines by corrupt senior Government officials who are seeking to enrich themselves by incorporating companies for the sole purpose of bagging targeted contracts.
The BBI report also seeks to amend the procurement Act 2015 to obligate accounting officers to ensure that procurement of goods, works and services of the public entity are done in accordance with and with strict adherence to the approved procurement plans.
To address cases where payment to bidders is delayed, the proposal suggests that an amendment be made to ensure that money is available for prompt payments. For an accounting officer to procure goods or services without a procurement plan, or in disregard of that plan, amounts to an offence,” reads the Bill.
The proposal seeks to provide a system where payments for goods and services delivered will be settled promptly. It is geared at removing cases where suppliers suffer constant delays in payments especially for goods delivered to Government.
It will be mandatory that settlement of invoices for the goods and services supplied be made within 30 days after the invoice is dispatched. The proposal seeks to deal with the issue of pending bills that became critical, especially last year forcing contractors to default on paying employees and other bills.
The National and County governments have racked up pending bills in excess of Sh.200 billion making suppliers unable to operate with small companies shutting down due to lack of operating capital. In the private sector for instance, the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) earlier in the year started probing supermarkets over concerns they were not paying their suppliers in time.
However, it would also be remembered that deliveries on payment could arise due to a difficult operating environment that makes business unable to promptly meet their bills as witnessed late last year. If the BBI is passed, there will be established the Public Invoices Settlement Tribunal that will hear complaints from suppliers over delays by the procuring entities in settling payments.
For the sake of transparency, both the proceedings and conclusions of the Tribunal shall be open to the public with an exception of where the procurement of classified items is concerned. The conclusions of the tribunal shall be enforced by the concerned procuring entity. The tribunal may also make appropriate recommendations on necessary reforms to foster prompt payments.
The changes also require the Controller of Budget to undertake due diligence on the performance of an ongoing project and ensure that the remaining funds are only paid if the project meets the expected standards.
The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) has been officially launched and the journey of constitutional reform has begun.The drafters of the document have tried their best to fulfil their mandate and had a precursor to rely on, the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission (CKRC), led by ac-claimed doyen of constitutionalism, Prof Yash Pal Ghai, which charted the path to the 2010 Constitution.
However, CKRC’s work that culminated in the historic Bomas of Kenya conference in 2003 was adulterated by the political elite at the eleventh hour.Constitutionalism and legislation since the Lancaster House conferences that gave birth to the independence constitution through the tumultuous “second liberation”, culminating in the 2010 Constitution, makes for insightful reflection.
One thing stands out. The political class has been the biggest impediment to the attain-ment of the ideals of constitutionalism. Our current constitution, which is up for review following the BBI bulletin, is one of the most progressive charters in the world.I spoke to the CKRC Secretary, Prof PLO Lumumba shortly after its promulgation and it was his view that our new constitution was a “mongrel”, compared to other countries’.
He considered the number of counties under devolution too large and queried the structure of the Executive, which in his inter-pretation of the BBI proposals, he now feels resembles a “serpent”. The thrust of the 2010 Constitution was de-centralisation of power and distribution of re-sources to the grassroots through devolution fulfilled with 47 counties that have become a welcome permanent feature on the political and socio-economic landscape.
Considering Kenya’s ethnic, geographical and political diversity and the attendant ben-efits of devolution realised over the last seven years, the number of counties might not be too many after all.Although the 2010 Constitution was good, it was a political compromise. It has defects that haunt us to date perpetuated by a toxic and immature political elite. They have failed to submit to the values of democracy and constitutionalism.
Citizens, captured by these political elite and ethnic lords, are to blame too. A people get the government they deserve, argues constitutional lawyer, Prof Makau Mutua, as they continue to vote for the worst among us.Responsible citizenship requires the cultivation of a responsive constitutional culture rooted in integrity, justice, human dignity, just rule of law, moral probity and authority.
The people and the political elite must breathe a new life into the 2010 Constitu-tion by entrenching key proposals in the BBI report as the national conversation kicks off. However, the people must have the final say. Notable proposals include 15-35 per cent increase in allocation of revenue to counties and 50-50 gender representation in the Senate, while retaining Women Reps in the National Assembly, and economic stimulus to youth, women and economic groups.
For good governance, expansion of the Executive to include a Prime Minister and two Deputies is an opportunity to enhance much-needed ethnic inclusion, national cohesion and reconciliation. Experts have established that “elite cohesion is more important than ethnicity to political stability.”The Chapter on Leadership and Integrity should be strengthened to make it easy to sanction/impeach the President.
Wananchi must defend and monitor our constitutional gains and ensure full realisation of its review and implementation cap-tured in the BBI bulletin incorporating expert information and knowledge.
Majority of us are deeply disappointed citizens because of the wave of violence witnessed during recent political rallies. One of DP William Ruto’s tactics ahead of 2022 has involved wooing the youth and women to support his presidential bid.
In the name of ‘empowerment’ programmes, he has been giving out wheelbarrows, handcarts, water tanks, sufurias, and of course cash handouts to youth and women groups mainly drawn from informal settlements.
While this may, ignorantly, pass as the good aspect of Ruto’s charm offensive, the bad and ugly sides of the strategy was, perhaps inadvertently, laid bare during the deadly chaos in Murang’a and Kisii. But beat as it may, time and again, young people have been the victims of political violence as perpetrators, and implementers of the violence.
At the heart of the violence were poor young men and women lured from urban slums and ferried to Murang’a. Christopher Kariuki, a 21-year-old father of a three-month-old baby, was enticed to travel to Kenol with an assurance that he would be paid Sh2, 000 to spruce up a hotel in the area ahead of the DP’s visit. The young electrician cum plumber from Thika’s Kiandutu informal settlement would later find himself entangled in political violence he knew little about.
Fifteen-year-old Peter Mbothu, who completed Class Eight last year, also lost his life in similar circumstances. The life of the poor boy from Thika’s Kiang’ombe slums was nipped in the bud.
One of the youths seen in action at Kenol wearing a T-shirt with DP Ruto’s picture is reported to be a known resident of Kibera slums while the young woman who was injured after a vicious attack is reported to be no stranger in in the DP’s campaign circles. The coincidences in the episode were too many to be real.
The buses which were used to ferry the youths, are owned by one a known man in Mount Kenya region. The operators have been summoned to shed light on the incident.
The Kenol chaos have revealed that there is more than meets the eye in the DP’s ‘empowerment’ programmes. The DP has been widely accused of exploiting poverty among Kenyans for selfish political gain using his hustler movement.
The violence gave veracity to the accusations; it had all the hallmarks of militarisation of the youth as a tool to achieve power. But how unfortunate that desperate, if not jobless, youths can be lured with a promise of quick riches, and end up paying for the same with their lives.
The youths must be wiser and resist being used and dumped by politicians who care less about their future. Kariuki’s young family has been left without a breadwinner, and it is unlikely any politician will come to their rescue. This is too painful and high a price to pay; one that can’t be equated with the Sh2,000 the diseased was to receive.
While mourning his son, Mbothu’s father said the politicians who lured the young boy to his death were nowhere to be seen. The politicians’ should tag along their kids – who are busy studying abroad, in plum jobs or dealing lucrative tenders – and put them on the frontline when attending potentially explosive political rallies.
Now that they are buried and forgotten, another bunch of youngsters will be lined up to fight each other, hate each other, and kill each other on behalf of their political masters of course for pennies that can’t last them a day. The politicians should keep off poor Kenyans.