Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha’s directive to the Commission for University Education (CUE) to furnish his ministry with a report on the relevance of the various degree programmes and staffing in universities within the next 84 days is a step in the right direction. It is often said that quality education is the bedrock of any sustainable development.
However, overemphasis on quantity at the expense of quality education in our universities has proved to be counterproductive. Sadly, some of our universities no longer produce graduates who are ready to take up jobs in the various industries. Instead, they produce unemployable graduates who lack marketable and entrepreneurial skills.
Worse still, some universities have adopted a shrewd way of making money by mounting courses that are not market-driven. In other words, commercialization of higher education has adversely affected the quality and standards of our institutions of higher learning.
This is a damning indictment of our university education. Whereas there is nothing inherently wrong with universities offering courses such as business administration, humanities and arts, some universities have given science courses a wide berth. No wonder our universities have continued to perform dismally in international rankings.
I commend the Education Cabinet secretary’s effort to streamline higher education in Kenya and to stop unnecessary and haphazard expansion of universities. We cannot continue to sit and watch our universities become breeding grounds for unemployable graduates. Offering courses that have no place in the job market has become one of the greatest undoing of our universities. In 2015, CUE directed universities to drop certificate and diploma courses with effect from July 2015.
However, this order turned out to be hot air. The quality of education took a beating when universities started admitting non-degree students. For Kenya to realize its industrialization dream, the Government must invest in education that equip learners with skills and knowledge to solve the economic, social, and political problems that have been bedeviling this country for many years. Reforms in the education sector should also be done in line with the Vision 2030 development blueprint and Big Four Agenda. We need to bridge the gap between the academia and industry.