Meeting called to address university crisis - Daily Nation

Kaimenyi says CUE, professional bodies to meet over varsity education crisis

Wednesday October 7 2015

Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi at a past event.

Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi at a past event. PHOTO | JAMES EKWAM | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By OUMA WANZALA
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The Ministry of Education has stepped in to address the higher education sector crisis by inviting professional bodies and the Commission for University Education (CUE) for a meeting.

Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi said a meeting has been organised, with the aim of ending conflicts between the parties.

The meeting is expected to address issues surrounding the suspension of engineering, law, medicine and pharmacy courses at a number of public universities.

“The stakeholders meeting between all these parties will be held soon so that we discuss the best way forward and address the concerns of our children,” said Prof Kaimenyi.

However, Prof Kaimenyi maintained that professional bodies have no overriding mandate when it comes to quality assurance in universities as it is the mandate of CUE.

"CUE is on top of things. We have also told them to address these issues and I believe it will be done,” added the Cabinet secretary.

The National Assembly's Education Committee has also called for an urgent solution.

Vice-chairman Julius Melly said it was time for CUE, which is a regulator, and professional bodies to work together to avoid the suffering that students and parents are undergoing since some of the courses have been suspended.

A LOT OF CONFUSION

“We have a lot of confusion in the education sector that we must address now and this crisis is interfering with university education,” said Mr Melly.

However, he said universities must ensure that they maintain high quality standards as stipulated in the Universities Act.

According to the 2014 Universities Standards and Guidelines, CUE is required to approve professional courses only when it has confirmed that the physical facilities, equipment and lecturers are adequate and that the legislated relevant professional body have approved the programme.

Kenya School of Law director Patrick Lumumba has acknowledged that the quality of education at the university level is below the required standards.

“We have lowered the standards to lower minimum, provided you can pay,” observed Prof Lumumba, who blames the crisis on inadequate funding from the government.

He said universities had been compelled to introduce new programmes merely to raise revenue. He said focusing on making money had lowered academic standards, noting that the quality of education had gone down over the years.

“The bulk of students who are admitted to the profession, and it’s not only in the legal profession, are not the very best and we must admit that there are a lot of students going into this profession because of peer pressure.

“We must deal with the question of numbers vis-à-vis the number of facilities going forward,” he observed.