The shortcomings of poor leadership fill every nook and cranny of our existence. One only needs to watch, or listen to the national news to familiarize themselves with the sufferings of ordinary citizens brought about in part by poor choices made by past, or present leaders.
Poor self-seeking leadership is not a preserve of Kenya. It ravages the nations of Africa like a plague. A wealthy continent wallows in squalor and wobbles uncertainly under the burden of greedy, self-seeking leaders. Poor leadership is responsible for the negative image portrayed of our continent by foreign media.
Perhaps an important question to ask is ‘How did we, or how do we continue to train our national leaders?’
The truth is that we do not have any established leadership course that our leaders are taken through. It is assumed that leadership is a skill that comes naturally but the mistakes made by poor national leadership indicate otherwise.
The best time to train individuals and impart in them leadership skills is in their formative years. As the Jamaican Proverb goes, ‘Bend a tree while it is young, because when it is old it will break’. Personal leadership is a skill that must be engrained in all our children.
It is time to invest in every young citizen, qualities of a great leader because once we transform our human resource into credible people of solid repute and character, our governments, corporate world, and individual lives will begin to reflect a new determination to rise out of the doldrums. This will lead into a new podium of a renewed continent striving for growth, productivity, and economic
We cannot have a better country, or continent unless we invest in our people equipping them with a vibrant zeal to create a better world for themselves and posterity. This is an initiative that must be embraced by all who care about the welfare of our nation and continent.
Leadership training should therefore be made part of the curriculum and every school should be very intentional about this aspect of education. For example at Crawford International School, each child from Year five to Year 13 is issued with a leadership workbook and is trained on leadership values and principles of governance that strengthen their character and equip them to make better decisions as a leader.
‘Leadership and character development’ is taught as a compulsory subject to all students using tools that have been developed collaboratively for children. In addition, children are introduced to economic principles of value addition, industrialization, sustainable growth, productivity and money supply. Since the training is based on an illustrative story that uses animal characters as metaphors, children can easily relate with and assimilate leadership principles that strengthen the social fabric of the nation.
We are living in an age where our children are constantly bombarded with lots of information on the internet. Some of the information is potentially harmful or retrogressive in nature and may impede their intellectual and spiritual development. We definitely need to empower them with the right cultural software to enable them to wade clear of negative influence from the internet, conventional media, or social media.
As surely as it is easier to roll downhill than it is to go uphill, moving up to a higher plane of mental or spiritual development requires consistent effort. One of our greatest weapons is a firm resolve not to give up, knowing that we are in this for the long haul. As is the case with the construction of architectural structures, there is no shortcut or quick-fix solution for human development.
The greatest enemy to conquer is self. Sadly, the school curriculum does not equip the child with such information. The parents may also be too busy to impart such knowledge to the child. Without such knowledge, how will the child survive in the 21st century? As the English proverb goes, ‘Character without knowledge is weak and feeble, but knowledge without character is dangerous and a potential menace to society’. Character and knowledge together are the twin goals of true education.
It is therefore imperative that the present-day education system be enriched with a training that imparts ethics, character and moral values to children in the context of leadership. Only then can we repair the weak social pillars that support the economic and political pillars of the nation.
We cannot undo the bad decisions made by poor leaders in the past, but we can equip our children with the capacity to make better decisions in future. As Nelson Mandela put it, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’. It is one thing to have a tool or weapon; knowing how to use it effectively is a different matter altogether. May we have the kind of visionary leaders in our education sector that will lay the foundation necessary to bring lasting socio-economic transformation and prosperity to our country.
Written by Mwangi Muchiri, Crawford International School Head of Curriculum, Leadership