In the Kenyan education sector, Professor Laban Ayiro remains a charming personality and an inspirational leader. Ayiro is a force to reckon with and is a true reflection of Nelson Mandela’s words that education is the most powerful tool that one can use to change the world.
Recently, after the woes sorrounding Moi University, a lot has been said about Ayiro who was an acting vice chancellor for 1 and a half year before he handed over Prof. Isaac Kosgey. This article will comprehensively cover how Ayiro rose from the squalid Kibera slums to the helm of the education sector in Kenya.
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Ayiro is 64 years old by the time of this publication (born in 1957).
Ayiro was brought up in a humble background and lived in one room house in Kibera slums together with his father and mother. His father was a driver and his exceptional skills earned him a job to drive a foreign pathologist who was working at Kenyatta National Hospital.
He began his education at Spring Valley school before transferring to the then prestigious Nairobi Primary School. The school was a high end institution and most pupils were whites with a few children of prominent politicians.
Because Ayiro’s parents couldn’t afford the school fees charged at Nairobi Primary School, his father’s boss (the pathologist) sponsored his education. The foreigner was keen in having his son develop friendship with the young Ayiro.
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“It was an all Whites school, I was the only son of a driver,” Ayiro recounts.
Ayiro succeeded in his Comprehensive Primary Education (CPE) and was called to join Lenana High School but he couldn’t afford the school fees. His long term sponsor had already returned to the US.
He enrolled at Upper Hill School, a day school which charged only ksh 250 per academic year. Ayiro later joined Mang’u High School in form 5 and 6.
He recounts that one of his lowest in life was when he failed to meet the criteria to study medicine. It took the consolation of his mother whom he always dedicates his research publications to.
My mother told me: “You will become a great teacher. It is God who wants you to be a teacher. You imagined to be a doctor but it is God who wanted you to be a teacher; and greatness is not about being famous. You can be great as a teacher because greatness is measured by service to mankind,” Ayiro recalls.
Ayiro pursued a B.Ed (Chemistry) at McGill University (Canada) between 1982-1984. He holds two masters degrees; Entrepreneurship Studies from Kenyatta University and international Relations from USIU.
Ayiro holds a PhD in Entrepreneurship Development from Kenyatta University (2008). To further decorate his curriculum vitae, he holds an M. Ed in Education Finance, Economics and Planning from University of Witwatersrand in South Africa (2013).
Ayiro was a chemistry teacher in various high schools and served as a principal in Lubinu Boys High School (Kakamega) and Sunshine High School (Nairobi).
He has previously served as a provincial director of education and seniour director for research and curriculum development at KICD.
In Moi University, Ayiro served as a Director of Quality Assurance and Standards before he was appointed as the acting Vice Chancellor (VC) in 2016.
However, North Rift politicians led by governors Jackson Mandago and Alex Tolgos and MPs Silas Tiren and Oscar Sudi stormed the University’s main campus protesting the appointment on allegations that Ayiro emerged second in interviews conducted.
It took the intervention of Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i who stated that Ayiro’s appointment was not going to be revoked. Ayiro served as the VC for 1 and a half years and laid the foundation for various projects including the perimeter wall and new gate (main campus), hostels, school of law library, amphitheater and further construction of PDN complex which houses the school of nursing.
In 2018, when he was handing over to current VC Prof. Isaac Kosgey, Ayiro shot down allegations that his appointment was a ‘poisoned chalice’ noting that he had no regrets and that ‘his heart was clean.’
In February, 2019 Ayiro was appointed the VC of Daystar University, a position he currently holds and is aiming at establishing the school of nursing.
Ayiro’s Leadership Principles
According to the professor of research and statistics, leadership is based upon 4 pillars:
- Individual influence which involves mentoring people around you. According to Ayiro, when he was serving as the director of standards in Moi University, he could clearly point out programmes that had been structured on weak objectives.
- Using inspiration and motivation which involves communicating high ideals.
- Intellectual stimulation – A leader must get people to think along with him/her. This involves being innovative and creative to get people to believe in you.
- Support and individual consideration – This entails spending time with people and identifying key projects for them. Additionally, as a lecturer, Ayiro spends more time with weak students.
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