31 March 2007

Kenya: Review Our Education


Nairobi — Higher education has become a major pre-occupation of parents because it has become a defining point in profession and even social interactions. No longer can one get any high profile job without at least a university degree. For this reason, there is high demand for university education against limited places. Thus parents can no longer leave anything to chance when it comes to securing higher education places for their children.

Arising out of the stiff competition for higher education opportunities and given the high fees charged locally, parents have resorted to sending their children to neighbouring countries, mainly Uganda and to some extent, Tanzania, where there are many opportunities and at affordable fees. And it is not only at the university, also at the secondary school level.

As we report elsewhere in this edition today, thousands of students are flocking into Uganda and also Tanzania for secondary and higher education.

This development raises many questions: what is the implication of this new phenomenon? What is the quality of education in these foreign countries?

Of course, the Government cannot block any student from going to another country for study. But this must get policy planners and implementers thinking.

Besides the lack of places and high fees charged locally, many students go to Uganda for secondary education so that they can proceed to 'A' level and eventually join Makerere University, East Africa's oldest and once prestigious institution. Implicit in this is the feeling that Kenya's 8-4-4 education system, which allows universities to admit Four Four leavers, has some inadequacies.

Further with the quest for regional integration, it will increasingly become important to address the disparities in the education systems. In sum, the increased numbers of students seeking higher education in Uganda and Tanzania is a demonstration that there is some gap in our system, which requires serious attention.

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