Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i has now turned his attention to private and public universities.
Dr Matiang’i declared a painful clean-up that could lead to the closure of some institutions and revocation of some of the degrees awarded. He warned that the era of substandard university education was over.
The CS has already instructed the Commission for University Education (CUE) to conduct a special audit in all universities - those found to have flouted the law will be closed.
Besides this, Matiang’i said some degrees awarded to undeserving students would be cancelled. He complained that the institutions had flouted the most basic requirements and entertained characters who did not qualify to sit in a university class.
The CS, who went against the norm and released both KCPE and KCSE exam results in a record time of less than one month after the exams were done, expressed concern that some universities were admitting students who did not meet the minimum university entry requirement of C+ or were offering degree programmes that were not approved.
“We are going to take difficult and painful decisions to restore order in university education,” he said, adding there was no way people were going to get degrees without studying for them.
“There are universities that have registered students who scored C for degree programmes, knowing this is in violation of the basic requirements of operating a university.”
He revealed that his ministry had begun a far-reaching investigation, expected to end mid this month, targeting the quality of programmes run by both public and private universities.
The Government’s move to screen universities arises from the latest revelations that some institutions were blatantly diluting education standards.
The CS singled out incidents where students have graduated from university despite not attaining the required marks while others cannot trace the marks days to graduation.
In one such institution, he said, more than 200 students graduated despite missing marks.
“I have to prepare the public that some of the reforms we are going to carry out are going to be painful and very difficult to accept. We will have to implement the necessary reforms to restore the credibility of our education system,” said Matiang’i.
He warned that cheating in university examinations had assumed such monumental proportions that it had become a way of life and a cancerous culture.
“There are universities where it has become evident that some of the students who scored straight As in KCSE cannot survive even two semesters, posing the question as to how they managed to get the grades.”
In an interview with Citizen TV, Matiang’i, whose style has been likened to Tanzanian President John Magufuli, warned that he would stop at nothing to reform the quality of university education.
The announcement of a special audit has sent chills down the spines of many university chiefs following the latest reports that some of them have been violating the admission criteria set by CUE.
“I have asked the commission to exercise its powers in conducting an enrollment audit, pursue some of the culprits who have undertaken such programmes and where they are satisfied, withdraw the fraudulent degrees,” he said.
The CS was critical of the provision of university education online by some universities, saying they did so without the express approval and authority of CUE.
According to him, Kenya has had a solid education system and has more than 430 senior academics in university and research institutions in western countries.
He said the violation of standards by dishonest individuals was hurting the reputation of the country and the education system in general.
“We commit to provide higher education that meets the highest possible standards, quality and relevance in all aspects of university education, training and research that a university anywhere should offer,” he said.