Prof. George Magoha has been described as many things; tough-talking, no-nonsense, strict and selfless.
The newly appointed Education Cabinet Secretary is not only revered and feared in equal measure, but has also left an indelible impression in every leadership position he has been appointed to.
66-year-old George Albert Omore Magoha is a medical doctor having studied in Kenya and trained in four other countries.
In his 91-page CV, Magoha describes himself as a “…top grade Professor of Urological and Transplant Surgery since 2000 at the University of Nairobi trained in Nigeria, Ghana, Ireland and United Kingdom.
He found his roots as a leader in the Education sector when he was appointed to the helm of the University of Nairobi Health Sciences Department.
In his memoir, George Magoha: Tower of Transformational Leadership, the former university VC also attributes his ‘rising star’ to the selfless nature of undertaking what most would see as ‘lowly’ duties and to mentors who took notice of this.
Norbert Oluoch Ndiso, a Daily Nation journalist who reviewed the memoir, narrates an unlikely encounter between Magoha and Prof. Francis Gichaga:
“While, on one of his usual tours of the university, Prof Gichaga was surprised to find Magoha, then holding brief for the professor in charge who was away on a sabbatical, personally supervising the installation of burglar proof grill at the Department of Surgery.
“Professor Gichaga asked him his name, noted it down on his notebook and went away.”
His ambition, quick-thinking and practical leadership skills saw him rise to the position of UoN Vice Chancellor in 2005.
There, he accomplished what previous vice-chancellor’s had been unable to: sanity and accountability at the finance department as well as quality teaching and discipline of university students.
He retired from the position in 2014 but those who encountered him at the time still talk about the changes he made to the institution up to date.
Two years later, he was appointed to the helm of the Kenya National Examination Council where he also brought in a raft of changes, similar to those of former Education CS Fred Matiang’i.
techniques drastically reduced.
At one time, Prof. Magoha wondered why so many students would achieve an A-grade in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams but were unable to handle courses such as Medicine, Engineering and others.
He called it the ‘Kenyan obsession with the A grade’.
Prof. Magoha, who is also the chairman of the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board, bacame relentless in his quest for credibility and integrity of the primary and secondary school examinations.
His tenure was to expire in March 2018 with the search for his replacement a tough call because of the seemingly big shoes left to fill.