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Columnists

Role of professionals in development

Professionalism captures the fact that someone has undergone intense and extensive training and qualified in a specific field of endevaour. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Participatory democracy is an essential aspect of development of all modern societies. Participation enables decisions being made to be determined by the interest of those who reside in any society. Kenya’s Constitution recognizes the importance of participation. Article 10 stipulates that in every governance decision that is made in any society, participation of the people is a mandatory requirement.

Over the Christmas holidays I spent time in Asumbi. My engagements demonstrated to me the role that professionals can and should play in the development of their society.

A few years ago, we had an interesting discussion with colleagues from my village about our professional association. The debate then revolved around who a professional is? We could reach an easy decision. There was argument that even those who ride motorcycles in the village are professionals.

The reality is that a professional is one who has specialized training and who engages in a specific profession and earns a livelihood from it. The Oxford Dictionary defines a profession as a type of job that needs special training or skill, especially one that needs a high level of education.

From this definition, two issues stand out. Professionalism captures the fact that someone has undergone intense and extensive training and qualified in a specific field of endevaour. That filed should be generally recognized as a profession. Second, is the level of education required to qualify in the specified field.

There is a biblical statement that from those to whom much has been given, much is required. Applied to professionals in any society, by the time one is being called a professional, their parents and the larger community have invested a lot in their education and training. The expectation on the person is consequently also high.

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When devolution was adopted, its intention was to enhance local development and citizen’s engagement in decision-making. Six years down the road, the impacts of devolution are being felt across the country.

While Makueni continues to be shine as a case study of the transformational nature of devolution, the changes are in several other counties too. There are many counties, though, that have very little to demonstrate in terms of positive changes that this system of government has brought to the region. Many a times the blame lies on leadership.

Consequently, focus is paid to changing the type of leadership. For these counties, 2022 cannot come sooner. It is being held as an opportunity for replacing the non-performing leadership with more focused and inspiring leadership.

Sadly, just like in 2017, the elections sometimes never solve the fundamental problems bedeviling these counties. Many professionals in these counties seem to have adopted two attitudes. Either an approach of indifference or politicking. Unfortunately, this end up denying these regions the inputs that is expected of professionals.

There are many roles that any professional can and must play in their communities. Devolution offers space for such engagement.

However, in every locality, there are daily spaces crying for inputs by professionals, ranging from education performance, identification development priorities, oversighting use of public resources allocated for various projects in their locality and providing financial support for several local interventions by the community.

In doing so, there is expectation that professionals shall bring their advanced education and training to bear on the inputs they provide. For example, trained medical personnel should be part of efforts to address health challenges.

This may take the form of educating the community on preventive measures to address key health concerns, sitting on the Board of educational facilities and oversighting health investments.

The intention is to ensure that the quality of services offered is improved. We need to develop a culture where professionals are not just immersed in their own personal development with very little attention to the community where they hail from.



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