Speech by Prof. Fredrick A.O Otieno, Vice Chancellor, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Kakamega, Kenya during the World Education Leaders Forum 2015 in South Korea.

The Chief Guest,

Other Distinguished Guests in this Leadership Forum,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to bring to you hearty greetings from Kakamega, Kenya where Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology is located. I also wish to thank you for inviting me to this World Education Leaders Forum 2015.

First, I would like to thank the organizers of this Forum for identifying and working with a category within the global community that is going to play an important role in the world in the years to come; the youth. This young group is also going to be critical and will be influenced by the different ways that we mould them to be the leaders of tomorrow. Indeed, for a number of the youth, their future may even be now. There is, therefore, need to seek for innovative ways of preparing and enhancing their capacity to lead. This capacity to lead is greatly hinged on character formation much of which is dependent on the kind of education that the youth are exposed to. The values that the youth imbibe from education and from interaction form a critical part of their character.

Character education is the teaching of young people with an aim of helping them develop different morally upright virtues that will lead them into being healthy, critical, successful or socially acceptable beings in the society. Such human beings are considered to be socially and emotionally upright when they have excellent moral reasoning, cognitive development, life skills education, critical thinking and ethical reasoning. Among other virtues inculcated in character education are honesty, stewardship, kindness, generosity, courage, freedom, justice, equality and respect. It shares a commitment to helping young people become responsible, caring, and contributing citizens.

In order for character education to be effective, it must involve everyone. Each one of us is a character educator helping to shape the character of the people we come into contact with. It is in the way we talk, the behaviors we model, the conduct we tolerate, the deeds we encourage and the expectations we transmit. For better or for worse, we all are already doing character education. The real question is what kind? Are you doing it well or poorly? And what kinds of values are we actually teaching?

Dr. Thomas Lickona defines character education as ‘the deliberate effort to help people understand, care about, and act upon core ethical values’. In his landmark book, Educating for Character,Dr. Lickona asserts that “When we think about the kind of character we want for our children, it is clear that we want them to be able to judge what is right, care deeply about what is right, and then do what they believe to be right—even in the face of pressure from without and temptation from within.”

It is important to note that values, leading to character formation, are not limited to location. At a time when the world is a global village, values transcend national and regional boundaries. For example, the music that is loved by the youth in Korea is almost the same as the music loved by the youth in Kakamega, Kenya where I live. My long working experience in South Africa has shown me that there are things that are inherently the same. One such thing is character.

The issue of character is hinged on people and their friend. These are captured in the following questions:

How are our children learning?

Where will the type of learning we are giving to our youth going to take them?

How will our education enable our children and our youth become better people?

Answers to these questions will give the actual position of our education systems vis-à-vis our youth and the character that we wish to mould. I cannot enumerate them within the limited time. However, developing leadership among our youth is a first step. The second step is to encourage them to balance between their present leadership strong points by enhancing them while at the same time, confronting the apparent weak points so as to downgrade those weak areas.

As we encourage development of character in our youth, we need to also encourage them to handle fear-factor positively. Many great leaders have been lost in the sands of time for failing to take that one important step that would have changed the course of history. There are those leaders who disappeared because they took failure negatively.

I believe, Ladies and Gentlemen, that character education will buttress these resolutions for our youth to understand that leadership is not a bed of roses. Even so, with the thorns, we always find the sweet smelling rose.

Thank you.

God Bless You. God bless IYF. God Bless Kenya. God Bless South Korea.

Prof. F.A.O Otieno, FAAS

Vice Chancellor, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology

P.O Box 190-50100

Kakamega, Kenya

Tel: +254 56 30686

Email: vc@mmust.ac.ke

10th July 2015

South Korea


 P. O. BOX 190-50100, Kakamega

Phone no: +254 702597360/1

                  +254 733120020/2

                   057 2505222/3

email: info@mmust.ac.ke.

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