Leadership, News

Why We Must Revamp The Kenya School of Government to Improve Public Policy and Leadership

Have you ever heard of con­ver­sa­tion­al recep­tive­ness? This is a tac­ti­cal approach that seeks to improve engage­ment with oppos­ing views. It enables ami­ca­ble con­flict res­o­lu­tion which ensures that when peo­ple dis­agree, they do so in a non-vio­lent man­ner. Such a skill is par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant cur­rent­ly here in Kenya as we approach one of the most com­pet­i­tive pres­i­den­tial elec­tions in our his­to­ry and more so the over­whelm­ing effects of cli­mate change.

Con­ver­sa­tion­al recep­tive­ness is under­go­ing fur­ther research at the Har­vard Kennedy School of Gov­ern­ment. The research encom­pass­es oth­er skills that include deci­sion-mak­ing, nego­ti­a­tions, con­flict, teams, advice-tak­ing, con­sumer behav­ior, and the psy­chol­o­gy of language.

The Har­vard Kennedy School of Government’s mis­sion is to ‘improve pub­lic pol­i­cy and lead­er­ship so peo­ple can live in soci­eties that are more safe, free, just, and sus­tain­ably prosperous.’

The School exe­cutes this mis­sion through ‘cut­ting-edge research, the teach­ing of out­stand­ing stu­dents, and direct inter­ac­tion with prac­ti­tion­ers.’ By doing this, the Har­vard Kennedy School is play­ing a crit­i­cal role in pro­vid­ing pub­lic sec­tor solu­tions to press­ing soci­etal challenges. 

Unknown to many peo­ple, there is a sim­i­lar knowl­edge-cen­tered School here in Kenya. In 2012 dur­ing the final year of our most cher­ished depart­ed for­mer Pres­i­dent Mwai Kibaki’s pres­i­den­cy, a his­toric law was passed. Enti­tled, the Kenya School of Gov­ern­ment Act, 2012, this law led to the estab­lish­ment of the Kenya School of Gov­ern­ment. This School exists to pro­mote con­tin­u­ous learn­ing for pub­lic ser­vice excel­lence. This under­scores the dynam­ic nature of knowledge.

Knowl­edge keeps evolv­ing. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, many of us don’t fol­low suit. We assume that the knowl­edge we have already acquired doesn’t need replen­ish­ment. This is a fatal assump­tion that can great­ly dis­em­pow­er us. Indeed, our Pub­lic sec­tor needs to con­sis­tent­ly unearth knowl­edge that will inform pol­i­cy for­mu­la­tion and executions. 

There is a wide array of crit­i­cal ques­tions whose answers require deep dig­ging. They include: Why is vot­er apa­thy ram­pant amongst the mil­lions of Kenyans who are part of Gen­er­a­tion Z (those born between 1997 – and 2012)? Why does trib­al­ism remain a press­ing chal­lenge? How can we sus­tain­ably devel­op with the ensu­ing Cli­mate Change chal­lenges? What pol­i­cy solu­tions can real­is­ti­cal­ly dri­ve indus­tri­al­iza­tion and increase jobs? How can health­care for all be financed sus­tain­ably? How can rur­al-urban migra­tion be ful­ly reversed with­in ten years?

This is a sam­pling of some dif­fi­cult ques­tions whose answers or lack there­of are affect­ing our pop­u­la­tion. The Gov­ern­ment already has high­ly qual­i­fied pro­fes­sion­als who pos­sess answers to these ques­tions. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, there is a lin­ger­ing gap between pro­fes­sion­als in gov­ern­ment and the politi­cians who make laws. As those pro­fes­sion­als would attest, it takes a lot of time, research, and resources to unearth answers that can inform effec­tive pol­i­cy solu­tions. As such, knowl­edge accrued from such a process should nev­er be wast­ed or ignored. 

The Kenya School of Gov­ern­ment is well poised and posi­tioned to ensure that gov­ern­ment runs on the fuel of knowl­edge. Accord­ing to the Kenya School of Gov­ern­ment Act, 2012, the School shall pro­vide learn­ing and devel­op­ment pro­grams to build capac­i­ty for the Pub­lic Ser­vice. Fur­ther to this, it shall pro­vide train­ing, con­sul­tan­cy, and research ser­vices designed to inform pub­lic pol­i­cy, pro­mote nation­al devel­op­ment and stan­dards of com­pe­tence, and integri­ty in the Pub­lic Service. 

These crit­i­cal man­dates can only be ful­filled if the School is sus­tain­ably fund­ed and suf­fi­cient­ly mar­ket­ed. This year marks the tenth anniver­sary of the School’s found­ing. We should cel­e­brate that mile­stone by revamp­ing the School and ele­vat­ing research and knowl­edge to cen­tral roles in the pub­lic sec­tor. With polit­i­cal good­will, the insti­tu­tion shall turn into a Think Tank of glob­al renown. 

We can­not make giant devel­op­ment strides if we do not walk into knowl­edge and deploy that knowl­edge to all sec­tors of our soci­ety. One of the most wide­ly known quotes is Fran­cis Bacon’s quote that ‘knowl­edge is pow­er.’ I could add that knowl­edge is only as pow­er­ful as its exe­cu­tion. As we revamp the Kenya School of Gov­ern­ment, we must exe­cute the knowl­edge that keeps accru­ing in it. Think green, act green!

About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Chief Stew­ard of Green Africa Group, a con­glom­er­ate that was envi­sioned in 1991 to con­nect, pro­duce and impact var­i­ous aspi­ra­tions of human­i­ty through Sus­tain­able Mobil­i­ty & Safe­ty Solu­tions, Eco­pre­neur­ship & Agribusi­ness, Ship­ping & Logis­tics, Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ini­tia­tives, as well as Hos­pi­tal­i­ty & fur­nish­ings sectors

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