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Fred Matiang’i’s new broom should sweep all corners

By The Standard | Published Fri, February 17th 2017 at 00:00, Updated February 16th 2017 at 20:48 GMT +3
Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i. (Photo: David Njaaga/Standard)

Those who might have thought Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i was a passing cloud were wrong. The reforms in the education sector are bound to continue as focus shifts to secondary school heads and universities.

For the first time in decades, the 2016 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examinations were not riddled with incidents of cheating that have often led to cancellation of examination results.

After an audit of public universities, the Commission for University Education Thursday released its findings to university chancellors. Needless to say, the quality of university education has gone down due to various factors, among them the emphasis on a university degree as a pre-requisite for employment.

The new Constitution placed a threshold for entry into politics at degree level, prompting the rush for degrees whose acquisition was not entirely above board. Parallel degree programmes have their fair share of blame for the bad quality of graduands.

The quest for funds to manage universities, after Government funding dwindled, has made satellite colleges to admit students to degree programmes without ascertaining their qualifications as long as they can raise the fee.

There is also an appalling tendency by below-average students to skip lessons but still acquire their degrees at the right price. Unscrupulous lecturers have played along, aiding the slump in standards.

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Consequently, the job market is awash with graduates with very little grasp knowledge of knownledge and skills. With the sweeping reforms in the sector, expectations are high that the quality of university education will improve.

As Dr Matiang’i reins in head teachers who defy ministry directives and unilaterally increase fee, parents should cheer him. The Government has increased capitation and set fee ceilings within the reach of many. Failure to adhere to these set guidelines, means students who cannot afford the exorbitant fees have to stay out of school doing nothing.

These youngsters are ticking time bombs that need to be defused. Dr Matiang’i should go the whole hog in reforming this critical sector.