Kenyan universities are in the throes of a crisis that is threatening to explode, throwing the education system into turmoil.
The majority of them, especially public ones, are in the grip of a severe funding tinderbox and all, including private institutions, are grappling with critical challenges regarding quality of teaching, the calibre of faculty and the relevance of courses on offer.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha, in a blunt assessment of the situation recently, remarked: “ … our university sector is at a crossroads. We must wake up to the reality that various issues have put university education into jeopardy.”
He fell short of ordering an inquiry into the financial health, academic vigour and sustainability of all universities in the country, but he has now called a meeting of all stakeholders to rescue the institutions, put them on a reform path and force them to measure up to some of the best in the world.
The meeting to begin on Monday in Nairobi will comprise senior education officials and top managers of the Commission for University Education, Kenya Colleges and Universities Placement Board, Kenya National Qualifications Authority, vice chancellors, lecturers’ representatives and international organisations with an interest in education such as the World Bank.
Prof Magoha, who spoke during the release of the distribution of last year’s Form Four leavers into universities last month, said:
“Time has come when we must hold candid discussions about the quality of leadership, teaching and research. We must open dialogues to free our public universities from the inherent rigmarole of political capture and unplanned expansion in every nook and cranny.”
Granted, not everything is gloomy about the institutions. Often unreported is the sunny side of things, which is buried in the dizzying litany of woes bedevilling the institutions.
Kenya has always stood out as the region’s de facto powerhouse in Human Capital Index, digital innovation and research output.