Some­thing needs to give to re­claim ‘lost pro­fes­sions’

Nairobi Law Monthly - - Briefing - LANJI OUKO

Avi­a­tion, law and ed­u­ca­tion stand out as ca­reers dogged by bureau­cracy, ret­ro­gres­sive poli­cies and un­flat­ter­ing pub­lic per­cep­tions

Kenyan in­sti­tu­tions con­tin­u­ously con­trib­ute to the rise and fall of some of the most elite pro­fes­sions. It may be the govern­ment in gen­eral, pri­vate sec­tor or even citizens but one fact re­mains: a num­ber of pro­fes­sions are no longer viewed as pres­ti­gious as they once were thanks to bureau­cracy, rigid­ity and in­sti­tu­tional cor­rup­tion! Th­ese three fac­tors il­le­git­i­mately weaken var­i­ous in­sti­tu­tions and pro­fes­sions, and the ex­cuse of “too swamped” is ir­rel­e­vant in most cases, if not in all!

Grow­ing up, teach­ing, medicine, avi­a­tion and law were highly re­spected and were, with­out ques­tion, the most pres­ti­gious ca­reer paths. To­day, in con­trast, in­di­vid­u­als pur­su­ing th­ese pro­fes­sions are among those faced by some of the big­gest ob­sta­cles.

Teach­ers were once viewed as the smartest in­di­vid­u­als in the com­mu­nity but now they spend their time beg­ging the govern­ment to ef­fect le­git­i­mately awarded pay rises! Be­lit­tling the peo­ple who ed­u­cate the doc­tor, lawyer and even the politi­cian is sim­ply shame­less.

In the vil­lage, a doc­tor cy­cling to the clinic was a view to watch in amaze­ment. The clean Kaunda suit and a bag full of medicine strapped at the back of his bi­cy­cle had a re­as­sur­ance to it. Every­thing a doc­tor said was the gospel truth, whether the pre­scrip­tion re­quired one to roll in mud or eat worms. Doc­tors were the most ed­u­cated in­di­vid­u­als in any com­mu­nity. To­day like teach­ers, nurses and doc­tors are con­stantly up in arms de­mand­ing pay raises, favourable work­ing con­di­tions and bet­ter fa­cil­i­ties.


The scene of Leonardo Di Caprio in the 1960s movie “Catch me if you Can” where he acts as a pi­lot, walk­ing down the street and the lit­tle chil­dren run up to him ask­ing for his au­to­graph, for the sole rea­son that he is a pi­lot, is iconic. In­deed, be­ing a com­mer­cial pi­lot is a pres­ti­gious line of work. How­ever, the state of af­fairs at Kenya Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity may con­vince you to re­tract that though.

Cabin crew, flight engi­neer­ing, flight oper­a­tions, air traf­fic con­trol and flight dis­patch are all li­censed pro­fes­sions. The Kenya Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity only is­sues li­cences. If you have a li­cense from the CAA of any other country, you will be re­quired to con­vert it to ob­tain a Kenyan li­cence for you to op­er­ate on a Kenyan reg­is­tered air­craft.

With that be­ing so, no col­lege in Kenya is­sues KCAA li­cences. Ad­di­tion­ally, no em­ployer will hire you and ex­pect you to work with­out a KCAA li­cence. A num­ber of Kenyan stu­dents study avi­a­tion in South Africa and the United States with the hope of be­ing able to com­bine a de­gree course and a com­mer­cial pi­lot’s li­cense. Oth­ers do so purely be­cause they want to study in the crème de la crème of flights academies in the world.

So what’s the dif­fer­ence be­tween the fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion in the United States, the Tan­za­nian Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity and the Kenyan one?

Shawn Bent­ley, an Amer­i­can who has been try­ing to con­vert his li­cense since 2013 says: “At the be­gin­ning I knew it would be dif­fi­cult… but I have over ten years’ ex­pe­ri­ence, yet I keep fail­ing this for three years. Is it FAA vs. KCAA? A sub­tle warn­ing to in­di­vid­u­als to avoid at­tend­ing in­sti­tu­tions abroad? The amount of money I’ve spent sit­ting this exam could ed­u­cate an­other pi­lot lo­cally… My wife is Kenyan and my daugh­ter is Kenyan… I want to work and live here, but that is prov­ing to be very dif­fi­cult.”

Quite un­ex­pected but it is more ef­fi­cient to con­vert in Tan­za­nia as it is faster and in­volves less bureau­cracy and

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