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[legitimized quackery harms the economy] Kenya should suspend the issuing of academic PhDs in ICT and Engineering

Well done, Patrick Maina for continuously challenging us…This particular
piece is quite poignant!

I spent the better part of last year working with local and international
universities on similar innovation frameworks for capturing
Blockchain/IoT/AI opportunities.

The biggest goldmine this country is sitting on is the Youth & their
untested ideas, I work with them daily and I see their frustrations and
great potential.

When did we become so short-sighted???

JK.

On Wed, Feb 6, 2019 at 9:51 AM Patrick A. M. Maina via kictanet <
kictanet@lists.kictanet.or.ke> wrote:

> The most dangerous form of quackery is *institutionalized quackery*. This
> happens when the following practices become pervasive:
>
> 1. Grades for sale / barter;
> 2. A culture of academic cheating / plagiarism / cronyism;
> 3. Academic Sophistry (using twisted sentences, jargon and fallacies to
> obfuscate useless garbage in fake dissertations);
> 4. Disconnect between choice of research topics (or academic focus) v/s
> the real-world needs of the country;
> 5. A pervasive belief that a certificate (not real-world practice) is the
> indisputable authority on level of competence and/or ability;
> 6. Due to 5, a pervasive belief in academia, and society, that the main
> goal of education is to “get the papers”;
> 7. The likelihood that thesis supervisors themselves are products of a
> broken system – thus (un)wittingly spreading institutionalized quackery;
> 8. Lack of commitment to solving real-world problems which are perceived
> as lacking “academic flavor”;
> 9. Mindless pedantry.
>
> Visit *KIPI *and check the number of *approved patents *- then compare
> against the number of *claimed inventions *in our *universities*. Our
> universities don’t seem capable of challenging ridiculous claims of novelty
> (despite the implications on *institutional credibility*) and this has
> led to a total mockery of words like “invention” and/or “innovation”.
>
> One may argue that perhaps the universities don’t want to patent their
> inventions in favor of academic progress – but that would be a major
> indictment on their real-world judgment/reasoning – given their well
> publicized cash strapped condition and heavy dependency on taxpayer
> subsidies. There are many types of conditional releases that allow for
> realization of IP revenues without stifling academic research. If our
> universities have a real IP resource, why are they not monetizing it????
> This is intellectual madness.
>
> Contrast with Stanford, for example, which earns > *Ksh, 4.5 Billion *annually
> from licensing royalties (>800 patents). Their *Alumini *have helped
> created high value global companies – which have transformed the world and
> achieved staggering valuations (e.g. Google, Linkedin, eBay, Cisco, Dolby,
> HP, Instagram, NVIDIA, Sun, Yahoo! etc – with a cumulative value in excess
> of *Ksh. 1,000 Trillion (yes, Ksh. 1 Sextillon) *- *enough value to run
> our country tax free on >Ksh 6 Trillion budget for ~150 years*!).
>
> Intellectual Property can generate more value (while being far easier to
> commercialize) than oil / gas / minerals. Why is our government not
> obsessed with commercializing indigenous IP?
>
> The people in charge of Kenya’s tertiary education don’t seem to have an
> idea of the scale of economic potential that they are sitting on (and how
> to unlock it). Observe the ongoing *US v/s* *China *technology dominance “war”
> for example – these countries understand the *link *between *indigenous
> innovation* and *economic progress* and it is no surprise that they are
> world’s top two economies.
>
> Instead of Academic PhDs Kenya should *issue Honorary PhDs *for *real-world
> achievements* in advancing the nation – and the prestige of such
> doctorates should be higher than that of academic PhDs. This will help
> shift mindsets from abstract academic activity to real world solutions.
>
> Meanwhile, the government should suspend academic PhDs to allow for
> reallocation of scarce resources more productive areas e.g. developing
> market structures for rapid commercialization of indigenous innovations.
>
> For the PhDs have already been issued, there needs to be a mechanism for
> revocation when:
> 1. the holder repeatedly fails to demonstrate *reasoning skills* in
> public discussions (especially around their field of expertise) that
> justify a doctorate status
> 2. the holder’s track record of *achievement in the real world* is no
> different than (or far surpassed by) an undergrad or college dropout (not
> personal achievement – but value addition to the country or society)
> 3. the holder lacks *self awareness *and does not seem to know the bounds
> of his/her competence (heavily relies on “academic rank” to support unsound
> claims or reject rebuttals)
>
> If we don’t urgently contextualize our tertiary education system to focus
> on *local real world challenges* (i.e. how to grow a tiny, low income
> African nation that is plagued by poverty, corruption and incompetence –
> despite having a “highly educated” population) we will continue to be
> plagued by the same repeating problems for yet another generation and this
> article (among others) will be proof, for our children and their
> descendants, that *we neglected our duty willingly* – in full knowledge
> of the consequences.
>
> I am open to (and happily invite) sensible rebuttals on this topic.
>
> Brgds,
> Patrick A. M. Maina
> (Independent Public Policy Analyst – Indigenous Innovations)
>
>
>
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