By Joe Ombuor
A visiting Zimbabwean scholar was recently shocked by the manner in which university education is treated in Kenya.
The conversion of middle level colleges into constituent colleges of public universities continues to stir debate as an ill idea because not all students are tailor made for universities.
Campuses have been established across the country. At the desolate Kwa Vonza market in Kitui County, a signboard proclaims the existence of Kenyatta University Campus and 20 kilometres away is University of Nairobiâs South Eastern University College (Seuco), also in a barren jungle.
Seuco took over infrastructure of the former Ukamba Agricultural Institute (Ukai), an institution built with the promotion of agriculture through professional skills in mind.
Prof Christopher Chetsanga who oversees the quality of higher education in Zimbabwe said, a conducive environment and qualified staff are important for the pursuance of academic excellence. That facet in Kenya has been overlooked in the insatiable hunger for business anchored on a peopleâs thirst for education.
At Moi University campus in Eldoret privately sponsored students with the wherewithal to pay for their sojourn are made to compete for accommodation with regular students struggling to pay tuition.
Chetsanga said Kenyaâs module two programmes might not stand the test of quality.
"You cannot produce quality university graduates from corrupted academic surroundings such as lecture halls atop shops or supermarkets. You do not expect lecturers who hop from campus to campus with money as their priority to produce their best. We have not gone along that road in Zimbabwe yet," said the 77-year-old professor of biochemistry and molecular biology. He is credited with the discovery of two enzymes involved in DNA repair that earned him nomination for the Nobel Prize in physiology.
"It is immoral to turn education into a commercial commodity that those better endowed with money can acquire easily as opposed to those without. You do not tap a nationâs best brains that way."
"This thing you call module two does not have the ingredients to intellectually strengthen higher education. It strikes me as deceptive."
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