WAINAINA: Need for change in higher education - Daily Nation

Need for change in higher education

Thursday June 8 2017

A graduation ceremony in Nairobi on November 28, 2014. FILE PHOTO | ANTHONY OMUYA

A graduation ceremony in Nairobi on November 28, 2014. FILE PHOTO | ANTHONY OMUYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

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Institutions of higher learning are being challenged to solidify their positions as home to some of the world’s top scholars, researchers and experts in diverse fields.

They are also required to provide the scholarly experience. Beyond teaching and research, Kenyatta University has invested in programmes that position its students as lead change agents so that they are not just jobseekers, but also job creators and, more importantly, socially adjusted members of a global society.

These programmes are aimed at harnessing various skill sets from the learners and investing in their innovative and productive potential for societal and national growth.

These initiatives include the Student Training on Entrepreneurship Promotion (Step), the Chandaria Business Innovation and Incubation Centre (CBIIC), the Growing Leaders Programme, the Student Work Induction Programme (Swip), Career Development and Placement and the University Mentoring Programme.


Why have we chosen this road? It’s because the growing population and shrinking job opportunities present a challenge for all universities.

Kenya now needs innovators who have attained higher education to be the cog in the wheel that will create opportunities for jobs and wealth.

And our programmes will, hopefully, challenge other institutions to rethink and also retool their programmes.

The Student Training on Entrepreneurial Promotion Programme (Step) is a research-based and hands-on training programme developed by the Leuphana University, Germany, in collaboration with the Makerere University School of Business in 2006.

Having been introduced to four African countries, including Kenya, the programme aims at promoting entrepreneurial knowledge, attitude and skills in students and academic staff for job creation and poverty eradication. 


Kenyatta University has since 2012 collaborated with Leuphana University, Germany, the Kenya National Commission for Unesco, BASF and others in expanding access to the programme to empower youth using real business, real money and real time. Our target is to roll out the programme in all the 47 counties.

In partnership with industry stakeholders, we initiated the Student Work Induction Programme (Swip) to inculcate some work experience in the students.

The Swip initiative aims at improving industry-based skills as students alternate between employment and study.

As the programme bridges academia and industry, students develop and build relationships in a three-way partnership including employers in diverse industries and the university.

It is meant to reorient the student towards work practice and culture for international best practice. 


Under the University Mentoring programme, students in all the disciplines are assigned staff members, including senior university administrators, to mentor them.

The mentors help the students to make informed decisions on their academic, social and career life.

Through the Centre for Career Development and Placement, career development tips are provided to prospective students, continuing students and alumni.

This is done through individual and group counselling, career references, attachments, internship and employment. 

The Chandaria Business Innovation and Incubation Centre (Chandaria-BIIC) supports new and innovative ideas from students and other Kenyans to promote a culture of innovation.


The university also offers a Certificate in Leadership Development and Mentorship programme to all students prior to their graduation.

We aim to create a critical mass of young leaders who inspire and address social, economic and political challenges. 

Institutions must change the mindset that we are preparing graduates to be employed.

Kenya needs to create 500,000 jobs annually to keep pace with the growing population.

If we can provide a laboratory that trains students and empowers them with the skills to be their own bosses and employ other Kenyans, we will be one step away to changing the job market landscape.

Churning out graduates should cease being the over-arching mantra of higher education institutions.

They must train graduates who will be the next Mark Zuckerbergs, Chris Kirubis, James Mwangis and other entrepreneurs who have made a name for themselves and changed society positively.

Prof Wainaina is the acting vice-chancellor, Kenyatta University