Beyond the confusion that has been brought about by the strikes by doctors and university lecturers, there is a lot of talk about the quality of university education in Kenya. My very humble submission is that this is a very positive effort on the part of all concerned to be addressing these issues at this point in our historical development. Hopefully what slipped through our hands as we have been trying to improve this sector can be corrected so that we can take the right trajectory.
Having said so, I do not think that there is any honest Kenyan who would deny the fact that tremendous progress has been made over the last few decades in the area of university education. Not so long ago, hundreds of young Kenyans were shipped to India and other places and millions of shillings paid to those economies by Kenyans so that their children could access university education.
During that period, we had only one university and then a few more in the 1990s. A big venture into private universities, not to mention the module II programmes within public universities, changed things. In recent times, the number of public and private universities has grown a great deal and so more and more Kenyans who would not get a chance not so long ago can now register in this or that other university programme.
Whichever degree programme one intends to pursue, the question of the quality and manner in which that programme is packaged is important. That, I am sure, is the reason we have a whole constitutional commission whose duty is to monitor and regulate university education. The rate at which growth in this sector has taken place is such that this growth may not be commensurate with the development of personnel and even facilities and so constant vigilance is of essence.
This vigilance must, however, be done with the best interests of the future of this nation and the good of those attending university at heart. If those responsible for it, be they officials from the ministry or former university administrators and lecturers, use their offices to settle imaginary scores with those currently running the institutions, then we have lost all the gains we have made.
A future Kenya whose economy and culture will enhance the lives of all citizens will depend on a solid integrated education system based on objective values. As we endeavour to correct mistakes of the past, it is important to appreciate the foundations that have been laid down upon which we shall build our excellence for the future.
Fr Dominic Wamugunda is dean of students, University of Nairobi.