KENYA: Government shuts down bogus colleges

Last week Kenya shut more than 100 unaccredited colleges, sending shock waves through the country's academic community as the government delivered on its promise of cleaning up the higher education sector.

The major operation to take illegal colleges out of business started on Tuesday, as Ministry of Higher Education inspectors shuttled between the main urban areas to shut down the institutions.

A list of the 110 colleges to be axed was published by the ministry in the media two weeks ago.

The closures have triggered massive transfer of students from the colleges on the list, with thousands of other students left out of school.

The latest development has also fuelled anxiety and confusion among graduates of such colleges, who have been left holding certificates from institutions whose credibility has been called into question.

The closures follow a string of warnings issued by education officials over the past five years. During this period unregistered colleges have mushroomed in the country's main cities, to cash in on the growing demand for higher education.

Rising transition rates from primary and secondary schools, and limited university places available annually for prospective students whose grades make them eligible for higher education study, have fuelled the demand for college attendance.

Government investment in the education sector over the past five years has reached new heights. The requirement that all tertiary colleges register afresh and have their premises inspected for suitability to offer certificate, diploma and degree courses has been part of a bid to bring sanity to this crucial sub-sector, offering an assurance of quality to students and their parents alike.

Government concluded its college vetting process and published a final list of accredited institutions in December.

Kenya is also spending US$56 million in donor funding on building vocational and technical training countrywide, to help boost the country's skills base.