Remembering George Magoha, a Titan of Education Transformation in Kenya

Professor Magoha


27 January 2023

It is with sadness that Bridge has received news of the passing of Professor George Magoha, Kenya’s immediate former Cabinet Secretary for Education, at the age of 71.

Magoha served as Education Cabinet Secretary between 2019 and 2022. He is best remembered for spearheading the implementation of Kenya’s Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC), the 100% transition policy from primary to secondary school, and increased investment in technical and vocational training (TVET), enabling students who do not qualify for university education to learn various skills and trades for both formal and self-employment.

Magoha joined the cabinet from the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC). As Chairman of KNEC, he was credited with disabling cartels that had propagated exam cheating for years, restoring the credibility of national exams.

He previously spent a decade (2005-2016) as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nairobi, coming in at a time when the university faced financial constraints, frequent student unrest and a disenchanted faculty. His leadership style saw him listen to students, faculty and support staff to develop shared solutions. The result was a remarkable transformation at the university—students largely ventilated through dialogue, while faculty and non-teaching staff showed increased commitment.

A Professor of Urological and Transplant Surgery, Magoha was educated at the University of Lagos, Nigeria, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith Hospital in London. He also trained in Executive Management at Stanford University. 

Kenyan President William Ruto’s tribute perhaps best sums up Magoha’s contribution to the education sector. “Professor Magoha was a towering giant of our time, a great man who stood tall in the academy, where he excelled in learning, teaching and research, as well as in administration,” President Ruto said in a statement.

“He led robust turnaround interventions at the University of Nairobi and the Kenya National Examinations Council. Throughout his tenure as Cabinet Secretary, he evinced a commitment to high standards in the public service and uncompromising integrity,” the President added.

Professor Magoha leaves behind a wife and a son, both medical doctors. 

As we at Bridge join Kenyans in mourning Magoha’s passing, we also salute his exemplary dedication to the transformation of public education, a cause that lies at the heart of our mission.