Things have indeed changed. Even in lecture halls where old men with grey hair and a tweed coats had for a long time dominated academic corridors. The new face of lecturers and profs are young, bright and sometimes cool men and women. No wonder they can be spotted at Kiza catching up with their youth.
“Young Turks are so friendly, relate well with us in class and speak our language. We belong in the same generation,” says David Muthoka, a second-year student at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology.
He says the zeal, vigour, energised research and their rapport with students makes lessons exciting.
For Vanesa, a graduate from The University of Nairobi, both old and young lecturers bring a different experience, although it certainly helps if they have some ‘aesthetic appeal’.
“I have experiences from both worlds,” she says. “There were older lecturers who arevery interesting because of their experience and stories, but the young ones were definitely more friendly. I’ll admit that I wouldn’t miss a class if the lecturer was cute.”
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Edwin Gogo is a diploma instructor of Communication studies at Moi University, having enrolled to a Masters programme to become a lecturer. He believes it motivates young people when they see their peers succeeding at that level.
“I was taught by a lot of young lecturers, and I think it was better. I try to take advantage of this when I teach. My students are young, so I know how to engage with them, and what will work best in class.”
He admits, however, that age can be a double-edged sword.
“Young lecturers have to be more careful about their interaction with students. It is harder, but very important that they remain professional, especially with female students.”
Shadrack Opunde, a senior lecturer at MMUST says the world is moving with the times and the young generation have fully immersed themselves in it. He believes the current technological advancement in the teaching field has contributed to grey-haired lecturers losing the appeal for students.
“In early 1990s there was limited access to Universities, so we had fewer students to teach,” Opunde says. “Both the old guard and the Young Turk lecturers are essential to a student for complementary purposes.”
Indeed, Professor Odhiambo, a senior lecturer at UoN, insists that age does not matter.
“At the end of the day, it’s a classroom and not a disco.” He says, adding that: “What matters is that the lecturer can deliver while maintaining the high academic standards expected of our universities.”