President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday put a brake on establishment of more universities in the country, even as he awarded charters to eight new ones.
In a ceremony held at State House Nairobi, the President installed eight new chancellors, and awarded charters to Kakamega-based KAG East University, Rongo University, Cooperative University, Taita Taveta University, Murang’a University of Technology, University of Embu, Machakos University and Kirinyaga University.
The new chancellors are lawyer Fred Ojiambo (Kirinyaga University), former Cabinet ministers Joseph Nyaga (Cooperative University) and Dr Sally Kosgei (Taita-Taveta University), Prof Mohamed Elmi (Rongo), Mr James Mworia (Machakos), Prof Musili Wambua (Embu), Dr Philista Onyango (Murang’a) and Rev Dr Peter Njiiri (KAG East University).
Before the award of the charters, seven of the universities had been operating as constituent colleges of existing universities, but wished to be independent.
KAG East University had been operating as a “registered private institution”, according to Commission for University Education.
Embu University had been a constituent college of the University of Nairobi, while Kirinyaga, Cooperative, Taita Taveta and Murang’a universities had been constituent colleges of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.
Machakos University had been a constituent of Kenyatta University while Rongo University was a branch of Moi University. “I have ordered a freeze in the establishment of new universities.
Quantity at the expense of quality has a potential to harm our country. Our institutions have to be globally competitive in their operations and service delivery,” President Kenyatta said.
He said the country should now focus on strengthening the available institutions, building their resilience and ensuring sustained quality.
“We expect our schools and universities to teach our children how to compete in this globalised world,” he said. The President said the eight universities he awarded the last charters were drawn from every corner of the country. “Our universities have a special role to play in nation building. They challenge our parochial concerns, expose us to Kenyans of different origins and experiences and teach us the value of our nationhood,” he said.
The eight add to the existing 40 universities with charters. Of the 40 institutions, 23 are public while 17 private. The University of Nairobi is the oldest of them all, having been established in 1970, while Kibabii is the youngest having been established in 2011.