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DSM 601 – STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT

INDIVIDUAL ASSIGNMENT 1

VALUE OF STRATEGY TO PUBLIC SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN


KENYA

VALUE OF STRATEGY TO PUBLIC SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN KENYA

Strategy by definition is the management’s game plan or ploy for conducting business i.e. in
attracting and satisfying customers, growing the business, competing in the ever changing
environment and improving stakeholder standing. It is about the how, the why and where to of
business. Strategy helps managers answer three simple questions: what’s the company’s current
situation? Where does the company want to go and how should the company get there? These three
questions are answered by analyzing the current industry conditions, competitive pressures, the
company’s performance, its strengths and weaknesses, its capabilities and opportunities. They are also
answered by making a choice to follow one direction and not the other in terms of future objectives
and in formulating ways and means of arriving at that destination.

These three questions form the basis of any strategy, be it for a multinational organization, small
business, non-governmental organization and even schools. Public secondary schools in Kenya
grapple with the same challenges faced by most organizations. They have to attract and retain the best
student’s body, compete with other public and private secondary schools, improve performance and
portray themselves as the best institution in the market. Given these challenges, it is thus very
important that even they embrace the all too important phenomenon of strategic planning.

We can then look at the various steps involved in strategic planning and how each one of these can be
used to benefit a public secondary school in Kenya:
Analysis of current situation involves doing a SWOT analysis for the school. By looking internally, a
school is able to identify such strengths as location, quality of teachers, reputation, etc. It can also
identify weaknesses such as lack of physical resources for instance buses, classrooms, etc. By
identifying both its strengths and weaknesses, a school can decide to either capitalize on the strengths
it has for instance high quality of teachers to attract high caliber students. The process also helps the
school identify its opportunities that exist out there for instance, the locality in which it is situated
and decide to capitalize on that. Threats coming from those close competitors for instance its closest
rivals in terms of performance can be identified and strategies put in place to guard against erosion of
the current advantages.

Setting objectives is the second phase in the strategic planning process. A public secondary school,
just like any other organization, needs to set objectives which are basically short term targets, which
form the basis of performance appraisal at the end of the agreed period. For instance, such objectives
as performance per subject by end of year, the number of students who should make the minimum
grade for admission to public schools etc. The objectives could be longer term, for instance five years,
in which case the school could plan for major capital investments in terms of building more
classrooms, laboratories, dormitories, buying school buses etc.

Developing strategies to meet the objectives is the third step in the strategic planning process. Once
the objectives have been determined, the next step is formulating strategies or game plan in meeting
these objectives. The most commonly used strategies in the corporate world are: - low cost,
differentiation, focusing on narrow market and developing expertise and resource strength that give
the company competitive edge. Just like in the corporate world, schools too can employ these
strategies in order to stay competitive.

a) By choosing Low cost strategy the school can set itself apart from the others
by offering affordable facilities, while at the same time competing for the top most
position nationally. Such schools as Precious Blood Riruta and Kilungu, though among
the most affordable, produce two or more candidates among the top ten in the national
ranks.
b) Differentiation strategy can help schools outcompete rivals based on such
features as higher quality, added performance and provision of special facilities. A school
like Starehe Boys has consistently produced excellent results year after year. They have
capitalized on a strategy of taking on boys who have done well in their primary education,
yet cannot afford to pay fees for higher education. This has not only helped it attract the
top cream of the society but has also helped it attract sponsors who have enabled it carry
on with this strategy unabatedly. Therefore we can say that Starehe Boys has differentiated
itself in terms of quality and provision of specialized facilities not offered in other schools.
Other schools like Alliance Boys have also consistently produced top students by
attracting the top most students in the country. Though not the cheapest, people strive to
attain marks that will take them to Alliance Boys because of the prestige associated with
the school.

c) Focus on a narrow market niche is another strategy that a public secondary


school in Kenya can adopt. This helps the school to identify with a certain class of people
thereby consistently serving them well and can then keep attracting the best. Starehe Boys
Centre has consistently attracted the best students from poor backgrounds and this has
helped it maintain its position among the top schools in Kenya.

d) Developing expertise and resource strength that give the school competitive
advantage is another way a school can set itself apart from rivals. Some schools have
competences in drama; consistently do well in music and extra curriculum activities. Such
schools may not be among the top schools academically but they have set themselves
apart in developing and sharpening skills in arts and other areas.

Implementation forms the third and another critical step in the strategic process. It is the most
important step as without it, a strategy remains but a dream. The implementation step then
determines what resources the school will need to employ in order to put the strategy into action.
Resources identified in the first step come in handy here.

Evaluation and control is the forth and another critical step. It involves checking at various steps in
the implementation to see that everything is as per plan. If not, corrective measures need to be taken
to take the plan back to the right path and sometimes, it may mean throwing away outdated
strategies and replacing them with new ones, depending on circumstances.

In conclusion we can say that there are a lot of opportunities for each school to fashion strategies at
fit their specific situations and even though it may seem like a long shot, have strategies that are
discernibly different from those of rival schools. Copying strategies of schools that have been
successful in the past will not cut it because schools, just like companies in the corporate world, exist
in very unique situations and those factors in the environment that give one school competitive
advantage can mean a weakness for another school. Given this scenario, the importance of internal
and external analysis for each school cannot be over emphasized. It is only in this way that Kenyan
Public Secondary Schools can hope to compete effectively both locally and even regionally, as we
have seen parents even enrolling their children in schools in Uganda and Tanzania and who knows,
maybe in the near future even internationally.