KENYA

Chancellors moot centralised lecturer appointments

Qualified and reliable lecturers should be recruited and appointed by a central body, according to a proposal by Kenyan university chancellors that seeks to ensure quality education in both public and private universities.

The proposal, aimed at addressing challenges in capacity building at universities, was presented at the recent Chancellors’ Convention held on 25-26 January in Nairobi.

Under the theme, "University Education and Sustainable Development in Kenya", university chancellors took stock of achievements in university education in Kenya and also sought to consolidate and enhance these achievements.

Jointly organised by the Chancellors’ Committee, the Ministry of Education and the Commission for University Education, the convention sought to address the numerous challenges that range from lack of facilities and infrastructure, continued reliance on overseas education, overall quality of education, and costs, funding, capacity development and research output.

One employer

In their report, the university chancellors propose that there be one employer – the university service commission – along the lines of the Kenya Teachers Service Commission. The commission would recruit and employ qualified lecturers, handle promotions and ensure disciplinary control over lecturers.

The commission would, according to the chancellors, help to curb the challenges faced by universities in employing unqualified and incompetent lecturers such as ill-discipline and the need for ethnic balancing.

“The lecturers employed by the commission will be recognised by all the universities and can therefore work or be deployed to any of the Kenyan universities,” said the chancellors’ proposal. It is envisaged that the government will come up with an age policy for recruitment and draft a harmonised universal employment policy.

The ministry of education is expected to approve the proposals for implementation by both the private and public universities in the country.

Quality

Kenya’s Education Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i said: “I believe that the proposals presented, once implemented, will ensure quality teaching, learning and research in our universities.”

According to the Chancellors’ Committee Chairperson Professor Judith Bahemuka, the university chancellors also discussed the challenges of growth, governance, funding, staff development, research and innovations as well as linkages to critical sectors of the economy.

There have been growing concerns about the dwindling quality of university teaching and learning in the country. Educationists blame the problem on uncontrolled higher education expansion over the past decade.

Kenya currently has 58 universities, consisting of 34 public universities and 24 private ones.

A recent report on the state of university education in Kenya showed that campuses lacked sufficient numbers of qualified staff, and had unfavourable staff-student ratios. In some cases, masters degree holders were teaching PhD students.

The report, produced by the Commission for University Education, or CUE, revealed that the current professor-to-student ratio is 1:98. Out of a total of 16,318 university lecturers, 8,693 have only a masters degree while 656 have diplomas.

The chancellors’ proposals come at a time when the government is expected to implement fresh guidelines over a five-year period that will require all university lecturers to hold PhDs. It is expected to take effect in November 2018 and applies to both private and public institutions.

CUE has also embarked on a process of auditing all public and private universities to clean up those universities offering sub-standard courses and those not accredited by CUE.