Monday, December 22, 2003
The situation is bound to get worse in time. This is because the number of students seeking higher education will rise in the next few years following increased primary school enrolment.
These facts should inspire us to critically examine the way higher education has developed in the past two decades. Although there has been massive expansion, a lot of problems have risen due to lack of planning and co-ordination.
In the first place, while attention was focused on expanding universities, middle level colleges were left unattended.
In certain cases, these colleges were upgraded and made constituents of public universities or full-fledged universities in their own right, but there were no replacements. The worst hit were technical training institutions, which were systematically neglected. Yet, these are the institutions that offer opportunities for those secondary school leavers who do not qualify for university.
And then, the expanded universities ended up offering similar courses. The authorities concentrated on the humanities which are cheaper to run.
But since these disciplines do not offer many job opportunities, they do not excite many students, some of whom refused to take up their places. Kenya, like many other developing countries, needs to change focus and give a holistic approach to educational development.
As we provide free primary education and expand the number of secondary schools, we must also put in place well co-ordinated programmes to expand higher education as a whole.