By Abdi Ali
Published July 23, 2017
Quality, relevance, inadequate funding, mismatch between curriculum and job-market demand, inadequate number of lecturers and excessive in-breeding in training of teaching staff are some of the challenges facing university education in Kenya.
Peninah Aloo-Obudho, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Academic, Research and Students’ Affairs at Karatina University in central Kenya, told a conference that looked at the status and measures of providing high quality university education to everyone by 2030 on July 6, 2017 that the more than 70 universities in Kenya are responding to these challenges by offering market-driven curriculum to attract higher fee-paying students; establishing of Public-Private Partnerships and Endowment Funds; stressing practical over theoretical training and mandatory industrial attachment; linking research and training and involving stakeholders in curriculum development; and requiring all lectures to be holders of doctoral degrees by 2018.
On what measure universities are taking to improve the quality of higher education, Prof Aloo-Obudho said universities are subjected to annual quality audits by the Commission for University Education (CUE), mandatory establishment of quality assurance directorates, training of faculty members on supervision of post-graduate students, competitive recruitment of administrators and training of top administrators in quality management.
The professor, a zoologist, reported that the East African Community, through the inter-governmental Inter-University Council of East Africa ( IUCEA) is moving towards ‘regionally recognised’ degrees in line with the “Declaration by EAC Heads of state on 20 May 2017 towards the East African Common Higher Education Area with common syllabi, examination, and mobility of staff and students.”
The outspoken professor also took participants of the ‘No Future Without Education’ Lab held at the Embassy of Germany in Kenya on the historical development of higher education institutions in Kenya from Royal Technical College Nairobi in 1956, Royal College Nairobi in 1958, University College Nairobi in 1963 and University of Nairobi in 1970 all the way to March 2013 when the number of public universities jumped from seven to 22 and all the way to the current 32 public institutions and an almost equal number of privately-owned higher education institutions.
Also addressing the meeting that brought together formal and non-formal educators, curriculum developers, examiners, policymakers, managers of learning institutions and non-governmental organizations and development partners was Julius Jwan, the Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development; Dr Jwan spoke on the status of ‘Primary and Secondary Education in Kenya’.
Besides looking at the status, trends and challenges besetting education in East Africa’s largest economy, the symposium also provided the platform on which German alumni presented and discussed 12 innovative education projects with a view to meeting Goal 4—Quality Education—of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that calls for inclusive and equitable quality education and promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030.
One of the projects presented by the alumni was titled ‘Embracing Identity and Cultural Diversity for Global Security’. It was delivered by Ogova Ondego, the Managing Trustee and Creative Director of the Nairobi-based Lola Kenya Screen movie festival and skills-development and marketing platform for children and youth in eastern Africa. The model looks at the value of non-formal, learn-as-you-do hands-on training as employed by historical figures such as Jesus Christ and Aristotle.