What you need to know:
- The only higher education institutions then were the University of Nairobi and its constituent, Kenyatta University College.
- In the present circumstances, students at the universities and other colleges will lose a full year.
Following President Uhuru Kenyatta’s latest pronouncement, universities and all other tertiary institutions will remain closed until January next year. Earlier on, the government had announced that the institutions would reopen in September, while schools were to stay shut until next year.
But there is a change of tack, presumably arising from the rising cases of coronavirus infections and the slow pace of preparedness on the part of the institutions.
The new development adds to the pain that coronavirus has inflicted on education and other sectors of the economy.
It is unprecedented in the history of education to have all learning institutions, right from kindergarten to university, shut for nearly a year. The only time universities were closed for long – nine months – was after the abortive 1982 coup.
The only higher education institutions then were the University of Nairobi and its constituent, Kenyatta University College.
But the nine-month closure caused a five-year backlog in university admission, which was only resolved by having a double intake in 1987.
However, that also came with challenges as university facilities were stretched and staff overwhelmed with huge workloads. Indeed, the universities have never recovered since.
In the present circumstances, students at the universities and other colleges will lose a full year.
At best, the institutions may be forced into crash programmes to recover lost time, but that risks diluting quality of teaching and learning.
Since the educational institutions were closed in March, the push has been to deliver learning through online models.
Remarkable steps have been made that involve developing content and training lecturers on new modes of delivery.
Even so, it is just a few universities and colleges that have succeeded, as a majority are grounded due to logistical challenges, including poor access and high costs. Put simply, most universities and tertiary colleges do not have capacity for virtual learning, yet that is the new world order.
Contingent on that, universities and other tertiary institutions have to scale up and integrate virtual learning into their programmes.
The new reality is that learning will no longer be tenable through face-to-face and onsite interactions as has been the case.
We are at a turning point when technology is the driver and education, just like other sectors, has to change and adopt new methodologies and approaches.
In the interim, universities and other colleges have to start early preparations in readiness for next January. There is no time for procrastination.