Education, training and information, the fifth Cooperative principle, was established and adopted by the International Cooperative Alliance and later embraced locally through the enactment of the Cooperative Act.
The goal and objective of this principle is to ensure that cooperative members understand their responsibilities and rights. It also seeks to ensure cooperatives educate and train their members on the operations of their cooperatives.
If this principle was adhered to, all members in our society would be up-to-date with their Sacco set-ups and also the factors that contributed to their triumph or failure.
Unfortunately, only a few members understand their cooperatives or the cooperative business model, a factor that has always made members feel as beggars while seeking services in their institutions and not as proprietors as it should be.
Members have at times been openly rebuked by employees of the Sacco or Sacco management who feel they are superior.
Cooperative members, especially those in rural areas, are at times not well informed of what their rights are in the management of cooperatives. Most always sit down and act only when things go extremely wrong.
Kenya today has a stand-alone ministry for cooperatives and the government trusts that the cooperative sector has the potential to propel members to economic empowerment.
It’s important to note that some cooperatives have been used to con people. Such cooperatives always come up with sweet promises that turn up to be scams, leaving Kenyans to lose their hard earned money.
The ministry of cooperatives should therefore set aside adequate funds to train citizens in order to enable them understand their rights as cooperative members.
If cooperatives alone are left to train and educate members, they will focus on packaging training that entices more membership and hides some realities.
Cooperatives are a devolved function hence the county government should also set aside funds to support training and use their cooperative officers to do the same.
Sadly, a cross check at the county government human resource department reveals that the cooperative officers are very few hence they can’t competently train coop members.
All in all, cooperatives should man up and organize regular training sessions for their members as is enshrined in cooperative by laws since quality education and training will play a fundamental role in ensuring the goals, objectives and mission of this crucial ministry are realized.
The writer serves with the Kenya Police Service