It’s time to make PhD holders demonstrate what they studied



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The Cabinet Secretary for Education, Prof George Magoha, has ordered an inquest into the quality of PhDs awarded by local universities amid concerns that some of these postgraduate degrees are either substandard or were obtained irregularly.

In a statement to the nation this past week, Prof Magoha said that he had personally come across PhD graduates who could not explain issues related to their purported areas of study, suggesting some commissioned their postgraduate research to third parties.

We do not know the identities of these PhD graduates who had been so underwhelming in Prof Magoha’s presence as to occasion this countrywide investigation, but the local chapter of the All-Purpose Investigators of Social Media is already putting two and two together and coming up with 36.

It therefore comes as no surprise that some familiar faces are finding themselves accused of intellectual corruption, with those fighting to top this list of infamy having the dubious record of making controversial statements that are completely at odds with the nature of the subject they studied. But who can blame them?

There is this one prominent PhD holder who prides himself on being an environmental science expert. He is known to be vocal about environmental matters, especially those touching on prime land and public utility spaces. On a good day you expect him to be the lead singer of the climate change advisory choir in the Kenyan government, in which he serves. He has put his environmental science skills to good use by dredging an unbelievable rural mansion that has man-made dams, and airfields for his fleet of helicopters.

His PhD thesis sought to answer one of the most pertinent questions we have been grappling with: Why do we no longer have tadpoles the size of my fist in my local swamp, and what needs to be done to sustain the aquatic antelope surviving on that ecosystem that is threatening to dry up if human activity is not controlled?

Other PhD researchers fully immerse themselves in their study site by putting on the right attire and carrying the right tools for scientific inquiry. Our favourite PhD holder went to tap muddy water from his study site in neatly pressed official wear, complete with his trademark fitting cap. He also had a camera crew in tow to capture the moment for his social media fans. But then I suppose you could call these the right tools for the job he was there to do.

When he eventually received his PhD after a never-ending series of bumps and bends, Kenyans were instructed to be ready for the greatest environmental policy light bulb to ever illuminate the four corners of this country. The graduating party, which comprised a stellar cast of the who-is-who in government, told us to cast all our environmental burdens unto his shoulders for he cared for us. If the Internet was broken that day, it was because Kenya’s chief environmental scientist was about to fix our ozone layer once and for all.

But then here is a man who is known for playing politics with environmental conservation when he opposed the government’s plan of restoring the Mau Forest ecosystem at a time when rivers were drying up and those living downstream suffering the effects of environmental degradation.

The matter was made worse when his inner circle of friends unashamedly went to public political forums inciting locals not to vacate forest land because, in their own words, rains came from heaven and not trees.

Our favourite environmental scientist never once rebuked his friends, neither did he disassociate himself from them, despite the fact that he knows better, having studied the subject intensely and to such high levels.

Just last week, someone was running a poll asking Kenyans working in the environment sector if they could recommend this PhD holder for a job in their organisation whenever a vacancy arose, and only a visitor in this Jerusalem would be shocked at the overwhelming disapproval of this PhD holder’s professional integrity.

On the day of judgement, Kenyans should just wave placards reminding God that they’ve already suffered enough.

There has to be a difference between Kenyans and other citizens whose leaders don’t treat their PhD certificates as nothing more than wall decorations.


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