Kenya’s toxic education system. Do the universities really deserve the charter deals?

H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta:


Just a few weeks ago, honorable president awarded charters to eight universities in a move that underlines the government’s commitment to improving education and making Kenya an education and a research hub. This ceremony also saw some great country men and women tasked with the responsibility of running and improving the status of the newly fledged universities.

In the recent past however, the Kenyan education system have come under sharp criticism with employers complaining that universities are producing half baked graduate who are not ready for the labour market. The lack of necessary skills from the modern day varsity graduates is a serious problem that needs to be addressed immediately so that the education system can transform the economy of this country and give value for the investment made therein.

As the chancellors and their VCs got inaugurated in the colorful ceremony, I couldn’t help but wonder whether they were full aware that the system to which they were taking office is an intoxicated system. Did they know prior to their acceptance that reading these days have been reduced to simply checking the social media platforms’ timelines? Did they know that they are getting into a system that glorify exam success and castigate failure? A system that emphasizes that if you are not somewhere within the second upper you are doomed to fail. Are they aware that they are getting to a system where CAT exams mean Copy as Taught? Do they really know that mwakenya is being used in the universities more than in any other place?
 As a matter of fact the university education has been over glorified. It’s no longer important as it used to be. Majority of the students are just forced into the system may be because they were spoon-fed in their former high schools and could not be allowed to pursue their interests because they were not in line with those of their families or parents.
I remember during my undergraduate when a finance lecturer asked his students in the exam the impacts of Brexit to the Kenyan economy. Very few were aware what the hell it was and almost all of them came out cursing the lecturer for testing out of context.  It was unheard of to many despite been published almost daily in our local Business Daily, in the Business Insider and Financial Times. I won’t blame the lecturer or his students but the system. A system that is more books oriented than solving the real world problems. A system that is flooded with students not because what they are pursing is their passion but because they have to go through the system to fit in the society.
My appeal to the newly elected and the existing chancellors and their deputies is that they need to embrace collaborative leadership if at all they will bring the much needed sanity to the education system. They have to involve the students whom they lead but not transform the university leadership into mafias that cannot be challenged. They have to be committed to growth and to bring practicality that is lacking. They have to train the students to solve the real world problems but not mastery of raw concepts. They must challenge the status quo to transform the education sector into a productive sector that will advance our economy.
 If sanity is not restored, Kenya will have a rogue police force, a rogue army force, a rogue public service sector and a rogue private sector that will crumble the economy of this great nation.
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