Universities need to improve curricular, teaching skills

Institutions of higher learning in Kenya are currently at loggerheads with professional bodies meant to monitor content of their courses and the teaching standards.

The Engineers Board of Kenya, which is mandated to develop and regulate engineering practice in Kenya, has discontinued certain engineering courses in some universities because they had not approved them in the first place.

The Council of Legal Education on the other hand has raised the red flag on the status of legal education in Kenya and has discontinued teaching of the same at a local university.

Recent information shows most graduates are not employable since teaching, learning, assessment and research in our universities and other tertiary institutions do not guarantee graduates’ employability and marketability. This is a sad state of affairs and it is important to reflect where we may be going wrong.

Our Universities, to start with, have been turned into tribal outfits. A recent finding showed that our universities have been reduced to tribal outfits instead of research centres.

Without professionalism in employment, our institutions of higher learning cannot be expected to practice the highest standard of teaching standards.

Universities, being national institutions, should endeavour to set the highest standards by employing the best teaching methods, learning process, assessment and research models. This is the only way that Kenyan universities will be able to compete well globally and rank highly. They should concentrate in combining theoretical and practical knowledge with special emphasis on current forms and methods of teaching, practical training and cooperation with local industries and other sectors of the economy.

A collective key concern by many employers is that, despite impressive academic achievements by some of our graduates, many fail to be attractive employees due to their lack of practical, creative and imaginative thinking.

Today, employers value language competency and literacy skills, including communication skills, numeracy, thinking, learning and basic computer literacy rather than impressive academic scores. Unfortunately, our universities produce graduates who are severely deficient in all or most of these skills as they have not been inculcated in their curriculum.

Communication skills, critical and analytical thinking, quick and diligent problem-solving, team work spirit, information management techniques, statistical analysis, entrepreneurial and leadership capabilities are instrumental in today’s job market and universities and tertiary institutions should ensure these are part of their syllabuses or course content.

Most graduates use social networks such as Facebook and Twitter for socialisation purposes. Universities should devise ways to help graduates on how to use such networks to develop their skills. Employers no longer consider impressive qualifications to select employees but the skills one has.

Finally, studies have shown that students who score well on tests often are unable to successfully use memorised facts and formulae in real-life application outside the classroom. It is time to change this model of learning in universities that views the lecturer as a knowledge dispenser, and the student as a passive receptacle. Universities and other tertiary institutions should therefore develop programmes  that are in tandem with current realities. This way, our graduates will become marketable.