The date was Monday the 23rd June 2014. Wilfred Kiumi, principal and founder of Jamhuri Film and Television Academy (and subsequently ADMI), a practical creative school was on a plane to Heathrow International for a conference he had been informed about only two weeks before. Despite his nerve-racking situation and the prospect of having to speak before numerous ministers and professors he was excited. He tells me “I knew when they contacted me that we (ADMI) were onto something.”
He was on his way to Wilton Park in West Sussex, England for a prestigious event organized by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It routinely gathers around 50 decision makers from all over the world to discuss international policy issues and changes. He, alongside former Cabinet Secretary of Education Jacob Kaimenyi and others, represented the country in a passionate discussion on the importance of higher education in developing countries. With the emergence of a digital and global education, ADMI’s practical, innovative business model was showcased as a model. As the only African institution focused on practical technical education for the creative industry, Wilfred was carrying the banner for the creative economy. Everything had been paid for, they said. All he had to do now was prepare for the first day.
Being summer, the country was heated, and so was the discussion. The room was large, and the various speakers were arranged facing each other in a round-table, “It was extremely well coordinated.” The mood of the room, he describes, was friendly yet passionate. “The entire conference was strictly off the record. This meant people could talk more freely and in an unrestrained manner.” As the conversation got under way, it became apparent that all present were passionately committed to better standards for practical education in developing countries.
One lady from Nigeria spoke of the lack of training among their technicians. “She said that this had led to numerous random blackouts in her country. The electricity company had to begin their own training institution to tackle that.” Everyone at the conference agreed that the education policies in the Commonwealth countries should change. Gradually it came to Wilfred’s turn to speak, who by that time had been swept up into the ‘Educational Zeal’. “I explained that there is a huge gap in the quality of workmanship in countries that have taken technical institutions seriously and those who haven’t.’ He smiles. “You can see it everywhere – when a mic does not work at a shoot, or there is no technical expertise to solve a visual issue on set.” His voice becomes more serious. “The truth is, technicians are needed everywhere, even in this room! Otherwise the room would burn down at the smallest spark. That is why their training is absolutely essential.”
The conversation moved from defining a vision for the 21st Century education system, to building networks for research and influence, to calls to action to strengthen existing systems. Wilfred recollects, grinning, “The former CS of Education was one of the more passionate speakers at the conference. Every time he started to speak everyone would start smiling.” The three-day affair was concluded on a high note with an extravagant lunch in the white halls of the 16th Century country house that is Wilton House.
ADMI is proud to have been at the table to bring the perspective of practical, technical education to the able to contribute to this high-level, distinguished panel on the future of higher education. The importance of developing a more digital, market-relevant and globalized education has been the aim of ADMI since its establishment. And Wilton House confirmed that we are on the right track.