By Mutheu Kasanga

I am in a reflective mood today. I served as chairperson of the Kenya Private Schools Association (KPSA) for five years. In that season, I worked with four Cabinet Secretaries: Prof Joseph Kaimenyi, Dr. Fred Matiangi, Amb. Amina Mohamed and Prof George Magoha.

I want to write about the good Professor.

My friend Nduta Kangethe credits two Cabinet Secretaries as doing the bravest thing she has seen cabinet secretaries do. She credits Amb. Amina Mohammed for stopping the roll out of CBC and Professor Magoha for jump starting CBC.

They were both paying for that piece of theatre called a “National Pilot”…and both their actions safeguarded very necessary education reforms.. but I digress.

Mutheu Kasanga. PHOTO/COURTESY

I first met Prof when he was made the Chair of KNEC. This was coming on the heels of the worst exam cheating scandal in the history of Kenya. The scandal was so bad that the entire board at the time was fired.

He was given one assignment: clean up. And clean-up he did.

He instituted the reforms we have today which have seen elimination of exam leaks…we only have early exposure for paper two. And this one is an almost incurable global issue.

I have watched this man deal with the intricacies of running a behemoth of a ministry.

I have watched him become a quality assurance officer out of necessity because government is an animal that can eat you up and yes, trust is a luxury.


Remember that time a certain CS discovered stadiums had not been built even after receiving reports from her own staff that it had been done? Remember that one who paid for roads that were never built? Or that one who paid for medical supplies that never arrived?

Trust is a luxury that an Education Cabinet Secretary will not enjoy until parliament amends the Laws that govern education so that cabinet secretaries can be in charge of their staff.

I have watched him fight tenderprenuers who wanted the desk contracts at the expense of local artisans. I watched him babysit that process till it was complete.

I watched him deliver those Mpesa records to parliament for oversight.


I was there when the issue of inflated capitation numbers was highlighted. He ordered a manual count of all children in public schools.

It is this action that jumpstarted the review of the NEMIS system and a better version will be launched in a week or two.

This man is never late for meetings; and they are early. A 6am meet is a 6am meet. He does not require his people to do things he is not willing to do. If the exam container arrives at 3am, he is there at 3am.

I have seen him fight for marginalized and poor children…more than any other CS I have worked with. The children in slums take pre-eminence in form one selection.

It is non-negotiable. And he follows up to make sure they go to school. He pushes us in private sector incredibly hard for scholarships.


I have watched him deal with extreme negative publicity because he refuses to engage in brown envelope journalism.

I have watched him and the new KNEC CEO navigate the move to New Mitihani House in South C. The construction of that one began in 1986.

I hope someday they write about how they achieved it, how much they had to fight cartels with vested interests and the prices they have had to pay personally.

The man is not an elegant communicator. He is also incurably arrogant. But he is a worker, he cares about children, and he does not play games.

This country owes him a debt of thanks.

Mutheu Kasanga is the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Lukenya University