Open learning may not be a distant dream for long

Mike Owuor

Higher Education Minister William Ruto has announced the National Open University of Kenya will be established before the end of the year. This is supposedly inspired by the need to give access to higher education for thousands of qualified people locked out of public universities due to resource constraints.

PointBlank has in past editions, most recently on May 13, expressed concern about wastage in the survival-of-the-fittest education system that leaves ‘failures’ in limbo (Halt rat race to convert colleges into universities). Thinking outside the box, as Mr Ruto seems to be doing, is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Credible system

However, despite its many advantages revolving around flexibility and affordability, establishing a scrupulous long distance education system is easier said than done. Open or distance learning in the mould of the giant University of South Africa is built on integrity and quality, whose spin-off is international credibility.

The motivation should never be short-term for the sake of absorbing masses of ‘stranded’ students.


Road craters that created ‘Lake Ngecha’

Recently there was a mini-lake on Ngecha Road in Lower Kabete, Nairobi, reports Mr Githuku Mungai. It forced some motorists to detour but braver souls risked and ‘swam’ across, paying a high price as some vehicles stalled while others were filled with water.

The ‘lake’, which extended to the roadside, dried up after a fortnight but caused a lot of damage within that time.

"There is an explanation for the ‘lake’," he reveals.

Last year some small but meaningful self-help works were carried out in the worst sections of the road. Truckloads of stones were ferried to the site and, after a bit of digging, were placed in the potholes and covered with murram. This elevated sections of the road, giving an uneven surface. When it rained, the water collected in the lower parts.

PointBlank first published a complaint about the road on October 2, 2008 (Do they know where bumpy Ngecha Road is?). The then Town Clerk John Gakuo clarified that it was under the jurisdiction of the Roads ministry (Right of Reply: Council not in charge of Ngecha Road, November 6, 2008).

Ahem, are you there Minister Franklin Bett?


Mechanics menace in Ziwani

A concerned resident of Ziwani Estate, Nairobi, says motor vehicle mechanics have made life miserable by extending their operations beyond the designated garage.

"Our lives have become intolerable and our houses are unlivable due to the noise and exposure to chemicals. The nuisance starts from as early as 6am," he laments.

He adds that last year residents petitioned the city council and National Environment Management Authority to erect barriers to keep out the vehicles but officials have not taken the complaints seriously. The danger is even more apparent as petrol tankers are repaired in the estate.

"We are tired of being unable to rest inside our houses. My 11-month-old child now experiences frequent panic attacks due to the high noise levels. No one can sleep anymore," he says.

Drowning in nuisance

Besides, the resident claims, women have to endure sexually suggestive words and signals from foul-mouthed mechanics when walking in the estate.

While he appreciates the mechanics have a right to earn a living, he also thinks residents deserve a clean and quiet environment.



What a chaotic water sector!

PointBlank was right yesterday in arguing that the Water Act was not clear on the overlapping roles of local authorities and water boards in controlling service providers, says John Mbugua (City water firm row calls for fixing of flaws in law). However, he wonders why there was no mention of the chaos at Kirinyaga Water and Sewerage Company.

He thinks the battle pitting Tana Water Services Board against a section of civic leaders and company management is affecting services. Mbugua wants Water Minister Charity Ngilu to turn the pressure on those sabotaging water sector reforms for personal gain.


Did aviation authority staff queries fail to fly?

During transition of terms of service from the public service to that of the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), a "concerned staff" alleged some employees had their salary scales "wrongly translated" (No civility as staff air their pay grievance, April 8). This meant "we were underpaid for two years, between January 2004 and January 2006". This error was corrected in February 2006 "after several complaints".

However, the employee claimed the payment was not backdated for most staff although "under certain circumstances not known to us" some officials received their arrears. Question is, will other staff receive their allowances, too, acting Transport Minister Amos Kimunya.

Related Topics