Turmoil throws higher education into disarray – 7 Feb 08

Turmoil throws higher education into disarray

Higher education is facing one of its worst crisis ever following a delay in re-opening public universities and tertiary colleges in the wake of post-election violence. The delay is expected to put the institutions on condensed programme modules similar to those of the late 1980s, which could compromise the quality of education. In the wake of the prolonged post-election mayhem, a month of the semester has been lost, bringing closer the reality of a syllabus crisis.

Of the seven public universities, only Kenyatta and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology have resumed normal operations. Higher education sector regulator —the Commission for Higher Education — said some universities would have to deal with bigger challenges once they re-open, the biggest of which would be how to handle the supply of essential commodities as well as staff and student transfers.
“Universities are very sensitive and we are consulting on how to handle the situation, “ said Prof Everett Standa, the commission secretary.

“We will be keen to ensure that all universities complete the required courses although it would mean delayed graduation. ” The flare-ups have also led to the displacement of about half a million people country wide, many of whom are women and school-going children. At least 1,000 people are said to have died due to the violence.

However, University of Nairobi which postponed re-opening dates for most of its faculties indefinitely opens door for some of its students today. Only postgraduate, biochemistry and health sciences students have been recalled.

Egerton, Maseno, Masinde Muliro and Moi, universities remained closed amidst growing demand for inter-university transfers and staff exodus.

Maseno extended vacation for students and staff to April although its yet to give the exact opening dates.In 1987, former President Moi directed public universities to admit two sets of ‘A’ level students to clear a backlog of intake that had persisted since the 1982 coup attempt.

Nairobi, Moi, Kenyatta and Egerton universities admitted students who sat their Form Six exams in 1985 and 1986 in what was commonly known as the double-intake.

The universities could not cope. For the first time in the history of higher education, lecturers had to use microphones to teach in some lecture halls.

Charles Sikulu, the Public relations manager at the University of Nairobi says with a month already lost, students and lecturers will be at a tight corner to cover the syllabus by the end of the semester.

However, according to Mr Sikulu, the university would recover the period by pushing the semesters forward.

This could affect more than 30,000 students at the university.
Business Daily

Pambazuka

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