Sobriety must prevail in varsity reforms

The radical reforms being carried by the government in public universities could be the silver bullet to rescue the institutions from collapse. That something needs to be done urgently in all the 31 public universities need not be overstated.

The vice chancellors have been given two weeks to carry out the reforms pegged on staff rationalisation, re-look of programmes and merger of universities.

They should decide which of the 28,000 staff must go, formulate humane staff exit programme and identify courses that could be scrapped or strengthened. The institutions too should decide which campuses should be merged or closed down to cut the costs. They should consolidate their strengths and choose the disciplines they are strong in for specialisation.

While the proposals by Education Cabinet Secretary Gerorge Magoha are reasonable, the vice chancellors ought to be listened to. In fact, to avoid a falling out, there is need to have more stakeholder engaged to identify and iron out all the grey areas. Questions on how funding gaps will be bridged will remain, for example.

The ministry and the universities should use the opportunity to clean the rot in the institutions to make them centres of knowledge, innovation and drivers of economic growth.

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