MPs seek review of university admission, childhood learning
| Jul 6th 2012 | 3 min read
By AUGUSTINE ODUOR
Members of Parliament want university admissions revised to allow candidates to pursue courses whose subject combinations they performed well.
The legislators also want Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) streamlined and made part of primary education and deliberate measures put in place to enhance quality education.
The more than 20 MPs gathered in Naivasha to discuss the major education Bills and policies called for reforms in the Joint Admission Board (JAB) to accommodate diversity of learners and also ensure they are accorded opportunities.
They said it is useless for a student wishing to study engineering course to be required to have scored an A in Kiswahili yet he has passed the relevant subject clusters.
Higher Education Science and Technology Assistant minister Kilemi Mwiria said it is necessary for JAB to recognise the diversity of the students and abolish the aggregate or grade system currently used.
He said many students are locked out of achieving their potential just because they did not perform well in certain subjects.
“The grade system where someone is required to have an aggregate A grade even in subjects that are not necessary to their career path locks many out. This must be reviewed to also reflect the unique talents,’ he said.
Immigration minister Otieno Kajwang’ said JAB should adopt the subject cluster system as was in the past to enable candidates pursue their dream careers.
“In my region we are not good in Kiswahili. But we can do well in mathematics, physics and biology. So candidates from my region can be locked out of engineering and medicine courses because they failed Kiswahili,” he said.
Students selected by JAB automatically qualify for loans offered by the Higher Education Loans Board. Other students are admitted at the discretion of universities under the self-sponsored programmes.
Mr Kajwang’ said external examiners should be involved in assessing university students to ascertain that their qualifications are genuine.
Higher Education Minister Margaret Kamar admitted that the quality of university education was dwindling and called for deliberate measures to end the same. “Quality in our universities is being threatened. We cannot run away from this. We must confront it. We must look at structures that can protect quality,” she said.
“That is the reason the Commission for Higher Education should be reformed to ensure the right persons are in the board,” she added.
The two-day meeting is organised by the two Education ministries to discuss the Education and Training Policy Framework, Science Technology and Innovation framework, Basic Education Bill, and Kenya National Examination Bill.
Last week, teachers demanded that the mandate of JAB be expanded and entrenched in law to coordinate all admissions. They asked the board to explore ways of admitting all students who score the minimum entry mark — currently pegged at C plus — to regular programmes.
Thursday, the MPs also proposed that a special Science Technology and Innovation tax be included to cushion the sector from financial constraints.
They said the funding system of one per cent of the GDP is not enough and recommended that the figure be increased to two per cent. They said for Kenya to emerge a strong economy, the country should invest in science and innovation and ensure that funding is stable.
Education PS George Godia said under the new arrangement, all public schools will have ECDE centres. He also said all schools would be required to have at least three streams to enhance access to education.
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