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President Uhuru Kenyatta's opening up private colleges timely move

By The Standard | August 18th 2016

President Uhuru Kenyatta's decision to send 10,000 State-funded students for placement in private universities is a timely move that will address the growing demand for university education. Needless to say, education has transformed the lives of many Kenyans. For many, education remains the great leveller; the choice-giver; the door-opener. Education offers opportunity to those feeling that the rungs have been removed from the ladder of life.

And so regrettably over time, the number of students who attain university cut-off points and miss out on university education has been growing.

The 2016 Economic Survey shows 165,766 candidates scored a minimum university entry of C+ (the minimum points) in 2015, a 10.7 per cent increase from the 149,717 in 2014.

Only 74,046 students will get slots in 31 public universities through the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS). That shatters the dreams of 91,720 students. 

The introduction of free primary education and subsequently the free secondary education, has pushed up the demand for higher education.

Yet despite that, the expansion in public universities has been at best, slow and at worst, haphazard. Facilities in most public universities are in a decrepit state.

What most of the public universities grapple with is a systemic problem where administrators failed to plan for the future. And nothing more than a root and branch change will shake up the ossified culture of business as usual, lethargy, corruption and wastefulness that pervades most public universities. In truth, most play catch-up with advances in research, technology and curriculum. And frequent disruptions from industrial action have derailed learning. So for want of a better education, some parents have had to enrol their children in reliable, but expensive private universities, or in pricey parallel degree programmes offered in public universities. Those lucky enough send them to universities abroad.

Yet even as they accept State-sponsored students, the colleges should ensure total quality and strive to unveil ground-breaking research and innovation.

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