In less than a decade the number of institutions of higher learning in Kenya has increased from 7 public and fewer private varsities to the current 22 public universities, 14 chartered private universities and 12 others with Letter of Interim Authority. We need to ask ourselves, if all the renowned colleges offering certificates and diplomas are upgraded to university level where do those who miss the cut-off points go to? Is the quality of education offered in the new institutions similar to that in the already established? Is university education really worth it?
Poor lecturer-student ratio
It takes at least 9 years for one to complete bachelor’s and advance to acquire a Ph.D. In the short span, the new institutions came up the few dons available had to teach in more than one institution on a part-time basis. In addition to that, they are also supposed to research and supervise postgraduate students. The situation is made worse by the increased enrollment in some classes holding up to 600 students. In some universities, it’s common to find students following a lecture through the windows.
Anyone who undertakes university education is expected to be accommodative, rational, enlightened and dynamic. In reality, most of we the young scholars vote along ethnic lines in the student leader’s elections. Gone are the days when varsity students would engage in productive debates and influence the national policy making organs. Instead we have become the vessels that devious Politians use to spread hate and cause mayhem.
Old course content
My associate an Economics student continuously complains how current world economic issues are never discussed in class. Evelyn* another Economics student in a neighboring university reveals that their lecturers are not enthusiastic about discussing things like the recent government shutdown in US .Emphasis is kept on covering the old course work. She compares this to equipping a military unit with spears, bows and arrows and expecting them to fight and triumph over another platoon equipped with modern weapons!
Easy score and instant gratification mentality
Indeed we Kenyans have a penchant for free things, easy scores and do not subscribe to the law of delayed gratification. Students would rather, copy-paste assignments instead of researching, ‘Google‘ answers during CATs and exams instead of preparing adequately, dig up old projects write-ups, change a few words and present them as their own. Hard work is shunned upon ‘Degree ni Harambee’ is the new student’s mantra. University education has clearly failed to turn students into honest and upright citizens.
70% of students are pursuing a career they don’t like
Our editorial team carried out an informal poll on our campus sampling 107 students drawn from different faculties; we discovered that 70% of the students are pursuing a career they are not passionate about. The two major reasons attributed for this were either the parents, siblings or relatives influenced their decision or that’s what they were admitted for in the institution and their aggregate points could not allow them to switch to their career of choice.
Practical’s oriented careers overlooked
For any proprietor seeking to start a university it makes economic sense to offer a number of courses that require a 250-seat capacity lecture hall and the only equipment needed is a public addressing system and a projector compared to an engineering discipline that will require millions of shillings in equipping the workshops and holds a maximum of 70 students.
This coupled with upgrading of technical colleges to offer other degree courses has led to deficit in some professions like plumbing. More students therefore pursue social sciences at the expense of agriculture-related disciplines. How will produce enough food for the nation if all students are trying to be managers?
Most successful people in the world dropped out
Most of the world’s prominent entrepreneurs, inventors, sportsmen and musicians never completed their university education. They saw an opportunity to utilize their talents, dropped out and worked hard to achieve greatness in their respective fields. Does this mean the 4 years one takes to undertake their undergraduate studies could be put to better use if one nurtured and commercialize their talents instead?
This brings about the big question, is university education really worth it?
By Mark Maish