The Cabinet Secretary of Education Dr Fred Matiang’i has expressed concern that the staff of public universities waste valuable time fighting over non-issues instead of teaching and conducting research.
He said public universities faced lawsuits which were taking time the University management ought to use to focus on creating a conducive environment for quality teaching and research.
The Cabinet Secretary spoke when he officially opened the 1st Biennial Conference on the State of Higher Education in Kenya at Kenyatta University Monday. Dr Matiang’i was flanked by the Principal Secretary for University Education Dr Collete Suda, the Chairman of CUE Prof Henry Thairu, the Secretary to CUE Prof David Some, the Acting vice Chancellor of Kenya University Prof Paul Wainaina.
He observed that he had asked the Commission of University Education (CUE) to freeze the approval to create satellite campuses by accredited Universities, saying this was necessary to protect the quality of university education in the country.
Dr Matiang’i expressed concern that the ratio of graduates to technicians was too low. The CS said the government has decided to invest in the development of technical and vocational training to address the skills gap in the country’s workforce. “A constant review and policy driven conversation must happen to ensure that this direction by the government is both sustainable and indeed meets the development needs of the country,” Dr Matiang’i.
He observed that 80 per cent of the undergraduate students in Kenyan universities study the arts and social sciences, notwithstanding the fact that some universities in Kenya were started off as science-leaning, only for them to abandon their specialisation.
Dr Matiang’i said despite the expansion of University education, only about a third of students who qualified for University education, joined Universities on direct entry.
He expressed the need to debate the role of private enterprise in the participation in and provision of higher education with a view to candidly exploring ways in which the government can facilitate private enterprise in the higher education sector.
Dr Matiang’i praised the University of Nairobi for making it to the 2016 Times Higher Education list of the 30 top universities in Africa at number 8.
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Nairobi Prof Peter Mbithi said quality faculty and quality students, and quality regulatory environment were the foundations for quality teaching and research in higher education institutions.
The conference attracted top University administrators, academicians and researchers from African Universities and some universities from Europe.