Dr. Fred Matiang’i, PhD was one of the most noticeable and hardworking Cabinet Secretaries in the Uhuru led government.
Many including children have at some point heard of this name which became synonymous with the education docket. His popularity grew when he served as the Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in Kenya. The interior CS was known for his no nonsense approach on issues and will be remembered for ridding exam cheating which was rampant in the final primary and secondary examinations.
The CS was born in Borabu, Nyamira county and is married with two children.
Here is his story as told by WoK.
The CS is an alumni of Kenyatta University where he pursued a Bachelors Degree in Education. He proceeded to the university of Nairobi for a Masters Degree and a Doctorate in comparative literature.
He has worked in different sectors. He started out as a lecturer at Egerton University and the University of Nairobi (UoN). The CS was sacked at UoN, where he was a lecturer in the department of Literature, for absconding duty for a period of five months. A letter dated November 23, 2009 from the then Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of finance and administration before he was elevated to the Vice Chancellor, read in part: “it has been decided that your service in the University be terminated forthwith.”
Matiang’i then served as the Eastern Africa regional representative for the Center for International Development, Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy and the State University of New York.
In 2013, he was appointed the Cabinet Secretary for Information Communication and Technology.
In 2015, he was appointed the CS for Education, Science and Technology. This is a role that brought him into the limelight. The year 2015 was marred by widespread cheating during the national examinations. The exams were leaked in various social media platforms and when Matiang’i was appointed the Education CS, he resolved to ensure this does not happen.
During the short time he served as Education CS, he introduced a number of changes, among them;
- School activities/functions during the final term if the year were cancelled including prayer day which used to happen shortly before the national examinations
- National examinations results were announced earlier than before for both secondary and primary school. This was to reduce the possibilities of altering the results.
- The candidates were to be the only students in school during the national examinations and the head teacher/ principal the only teacher allowed in the vicinity during the exams.
After these changes, the number of students who scored a mean grade of A dropped. In 2016, only 141 students that sat for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education attained a mean grade of A compared to the previous year where over 2,000 students attained A.
In July 2017, Joseph Ole Nkaissery passed away and he was appointed the acting CS for interior and Coordination of National Government. This meant that till the end of the year, he served as the CS in two different sectors.
In January 2018, he was appointed full-time as the Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Coordination of National government. Under this docket, he was in charge of security and law enforcement agencies. He continued with his no nonsense approach and during the swearing in of Raila Odinga as the people’s president, he received criticism when the government shut down media houses.
In January 2019, he was appointed by president Uhuru Kenyatta as the chairman of the National Development Implementation and Communication Cabinet Committee.
Scandal in his illustrious career
He has been touted as a presidential material and rightly so. He follows up on issues with so much zeal as seen when he was the Education CS. The Ruaraka land deal has however painted him in a bad light. When he served in the Education docket he recommended that businessman Francis Mburu be compensated a sum of Ksh3.2 billion for a parcel of land where Ruaraka High school and Drive-In Primary stands.
This was against the recommendations that had been made by Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission which had established the land where the two public schools stood was public and not private property.
The former CS came out gun blazing when reports emerged on social media platforms suggesting that he was sick with COVID-19. Matiangi said the reports had caused him and his family a lot of distress. He was forced to switch off his phone saying if he had been sick he would have come out.
He told the media of the situation his family found itself after the rumors emerged:
“I feel for my family. My innocent wife and children who have their own lives to live but they have to endure this kind of rumours. They are private citizens who have to pay a heavy price because one of them is in public service”.
The CS went on to state that he had directed the National Police Service to investigate the source of the rumors:
“I have told the DCI and the Inspector General of Police and they are trying to investigate. We hope that we shall get to the bottom of the situation..”
Two suspects, 33-year-old freelance journalist Isaac Kibet Yego and 19-year-old Emanuel Kimutai Kosgei, were arrested in Ngeria area, Uasin Gishu County, were arrested for making the claims that the CS was in ICU after testing positive for COVID-19.
Leaving the country under unclear circumstances
Matiang’i is one of Uhuru’s CS who has not known peace since President William Ruto ascended to power. The former powerful CS left the country days after he was summoned to appear before the DCI. The letter from the Immigration Department read in part:
“The subject departed on February 19, 2023, through JKIA on KLM flight number KL566,” reads the letter.