By JOE OMBUOR
Kenya has received a deserved mention on the world stage at the just concluded Global Peace Convention (GPC) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The locally pioneered Character and Creativity Initiative (CCI) was cited as the right approach to education that produces all-rounded individuals and described as an idea whose time had come.
It was noted at the convention attended by delegates from 40 countries that from its base in Kenya where it was conceived and born three years ago, CCI was literally snowballing to the four corners of the globe where it was being adopted to help maximise on individual potential that lies fallow in conventional academic branding.
Such was the impact and appeal of CCI to global education that the Kuala Lumpur convention dedicated a special summit, the first of its kind to discuss its unique contribution to an education not entirely pegged on academic excellence.
The special summit held at Universiti Malaya (University of Malaysia), the oldest seat of higher learning in Malaysia, brought together countries where CCI had been adopted or were on the threshold of being adopted.
They ranged from the developed United States and Japan to Brazil, Paraguay, Indonesia, Nigeria, Uganda, the Philippines, Korea, Cambodia, Nepal, and hosts Malaysia and Kenya where it all started in 2011.
Industrialist Manu Chandaria who led the Kenyan delegation to the convention in his capacity as the Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Kenya country director described CCI as yet another fitting Kenyan export to the world after the M-Pesa money transfer wizadry.
Speaking from an educationist’s perspective, Vice Chancellor of the African Nazarene University Prof Leah Marangu who chairs CCI in Kenya said emotional intelligence (EI) borne out by character matters more than sheer intelligence quotient (IQ) in comparison.
Prof Marangu said examination results alone cannot be indicators of success in today’s world, citing Microsoft founder Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs among the people known for their character and creativity who did better in life with lower academic grades.
“Top schools in Kenya today are those that have adopted character and creativity as their guiding principals by re-inventing the education system and harnessing the hidden qualities of their teachers, students and even parents,” she noted.
She said that from the eight originally identified CCI secondary schools, the number currently stood at 40 with proven academic and extra-curricular performance.
An American engineer and educationist Dr Tony Devine who oversaw the introduction of the CCI initiative in Kenya said the experiment contributed to peace in schools where it had been adopted.
He cited Parklands Secondary School in Nairobi that brokered peace with a neighbouring school, thanks to the effort of two student members of the character competence committee.
Said Dr Devine: “After adopting new values, teachers once impatient with under performing students understood them better and helped improve their output while bored students prone to causing trouble earned fresh motivation that helped them engage in productive activities that saw incidents, such as the burning down of schools, decrease considerably.”
He described as remarkable the support from Kenya’s Ministry of Education and hailed developments since January 2013 when the ministry started evaluating schools and teachers based on proven ability to nurture the total child in character and creativity as opposed to academic performance alone.
“Expansion from CCI’s epicentre in Kenya has been fast, first to Uganda, then to Nigeria, before it galloped to the USA, Europe, Latin America and now, South East Asia,” he said.