World Bank raises concern on quality of Kenya's graduates

Thursday October 1 2015

Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang at a past event. The World Bank has observed that the country’s education system is failing to produce graduates with the knowledge and skills crucial for Vision 2030.

Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang at a past event. The World Bank has observed that the country’s education system is failing to produce graduates with the knowledge and skills crucial for Vision 2030. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By OUMA WANZALA
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The World Bank has raised concerns on the quality of graduates being produced by universities and colleges in Kenya.

The bank observes that the country’s education system is failing to produce graduates with the knowledge and skills crucial for Vision 2030, in its report dated September 2015.

The report is called “Kenya's Education Achievement and Challenges”.

“Several deep-rooted issues continue to obstruct these desired outcomes,” said the report that was handed over to Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang last week.

The report comes in the wake of the suspension of a number of courses by professional bodies, such as the Council of Legal Education and Engineers Board.

Several law and engineering courses have been suspended due to the failure by universities to observe minimum requirements in offering them.

The report cites the newly established or rebranded institutions at the Ministry of Education that are not fully functional, thus limiting their daily operations and effectiveness.

“There is the problem of weak coordination amongst the sector institutions, cultivating inefficiencies and duplication of efforts,” it adds.

It further states that lack of data is another major problem hindering the capacity for effective planning, monitoring, management and accountability.

LOW FINANCING

The World Bank warns that low financing for development could derail Kenya’s education sector.

The sector could surpass its performance record if the reforms and challenges are effectively addressed, it adds.

The report further notes that the coordination and management of public education is fragmented, as well as riddled by low-quality programs.

It adds that the technical and vocational training system has few or no linkages or no relevance to the labour market.

“The system is large, spanning 1,870 institutions spread across several ministries, and generally features students who were unable to join universities because of low academic scores,” said the report.

The report notes that the sector has recorded growth in enrolment, a prospect that could be hugely important for the country, but only if students receive quality education and graduate on time with relevant labour market skills.

The report observes that the cost of self-sponsored higher education is prohibitive for most middle- and low-income families, thus limiting the impact that university education could have on economic growth.

It adds that enrolment in critical science disciplines such as agriculture, engineering, computer science, ICT, medicine and veterinary science is very low and growing at a very slow pace as a majority of students enrol for humanities, social sciences and arts.

NATIONWIDE DATA

“Besides the number of students and institutions, no reliable nation-wide data is collected and institutional information is sporadic at best. The absence of useful data weakens decision making at all levels of the sector,” it adds.

The report points out that families, for example, are unable to make informed decisions about suitable or the most competitive courses and their suppliers.

In September, a large number of candidates who sat the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examination in 2014 and qualified to join middle-level colleges for diploma courses snubbed the institutions.

After the final revision of courses, only 11,523 candidates had applied to join the 50 middle-level colleges by September this year, according to statistics from the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service.

Middle-level colleges have a capacity of 41,550 students.