[SIZE=7]Use IQ tests, not degrees, to determine aspirants’ suitability[/SIZE]
The election season is here with us again. In four months, we shall elect people who will determine many things in our lives. The current election laws require leaders in executive positions like governors and president or their deputies to have a minimum of a basic degree. I think this requirement is misplaced because acquiring a degree does not prove an individual’s intellectual capacity. The proliferation of universities has reduced the quality of education. Education has also been commercialised.
Sadly, this trend of putting money first has not spared public institutions. I have several times interviewed people who claim to hold a university degree for a job but find they can hardly construct a proper sentence in English or Kiswahili.
Leadership is not just about holding academic certificates. By nature of their job, elected officials are required to offer guidance to people working under them and to develop policies and legislation that affect the lives of millions of people. One important requirement for leaders should be having a reasonable ability to empathise.
To be rational and have the capacity to have a nuanced view of the world is crucial. An ideal leader should remain calm even when provoked. But in Kenya, it is very common to see leaders throwing tantrums and sometimes using obscene words. I normally tremble with anger when I hear some of the expressions oozing from the mouths of elected leaders. An ideal leader, for me, is someone like Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, who never expresses any irrational feelings. He talks with calmness and can reason with anyone.
Recently, we learned from the news media about how ingenious Kenyans are. There was a report about how Kenyans help students in America by writing their academic theses. There have also been allegations that people aspiring to be elected to political positions pay other students to sit their exams. As a result, there is need for a shift in how we determine the leadership aptitude of aspirants.
The government should establish an aptitude Intelligence Quotient test online where anyone who wants to be a leader can sit for a two-hour exam to test their level of reasoning and capacity to make rational decisions. In Europe, taxi drivers or teachers are expected to sit for such tests before they are allowed to start their jobs.
This is because taxi drivers and teachers manage complex clients. For example, in pedagogy, little children need a teacher who can understand their psychosocial behaviour.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=7]Equally, a taxi driver meets different people with different needs and behaviours and how one handles such people is very important. Leaders have even more complicated roles. They are many things in one. Elected leaders are expected to be mentors, policymakers and soothsayers because they have to foresee many things. They also act as mediators in the event of conflict.
These roles require persons who can withstand extreme demands on them. We, therefore, need to replace academic requirements with a leadership aptitude test and make the results public in the interest of transparency.
Mr Guleid is CEO, Frontier Counties Development Council. [/SIZE]