Today, many Undergraduate students in the Kenyan Public universities are being taught by Masters Students. Similarly, these University Students are the ones who are responsible for imparting knowledge to High School Students while the High School Students are the best teachers to Primary pupils. Take a look at the lecturers taking you thruogh this semester’s courses. You’ll realize that there’s hardly any Professor among your lecturers, maybe one Dr. while the rest have no scholarly title preceding their names.
A further prod into their academic lives, you’ll realize that they are either pursuing their Masters Degrees or have just completed. They are mostly referred to as Assistant Lecturers. What is the implication of having students teach students? Of course there’s need for that extra cash that will assist the lecturer pay the bills while still pursuing their academic endeavors. This is, however, to the disadvantage of the students. It robes higher education its value as envisioned.
A Department at Egerton University that has been churning out Graduates year in year out have only three fully-fledged lecturers. The Chair of the Department and two other Lecturers, one of whom is a Professor and does not teach undergraduate students. This is a department that boasts of over 10 Members of Staff. Simply put, most units in the department are handled by the Assistant Lecturers, most of whom are Masters Students.
A University is an institution higher learning where Students go not just to acquire knowledge in their respective fields but also to relate it with life experiences. It’s a place where knowledge is not only disseminated but also shared among scholars. The person taking charge of a particular Subject matter needs to be well experienced both academically and emotionally to handle the subject. The individual should not be easily challenged by the students s/he is lecturing. They should be able to handle the subject matter comprehensively and expertly.
Higher Education is No longer Prestigious As It Were
The rate at which undergraduate students are handled by their Masters counterparts in the Kenyan Universities raises eyebrows on whether Kenya is facing Academic challenge. Brain drain has been one of the major challenge to the Kenyan Academic system with many scholars opting to find greener pastures out of the country. Those who remain in the country opt for other ventures that are more lucrative monetary-wise than being lecturers. The Squabbles between University staff Associations and the University managers and the government are adding nothing but salt to the injury.
As a result, the Kenyan Education System is being affected negatively. With the latest Webometrics Ranking the university of Nairobi as number 9 in Africa and 1167 in the world, the effects of the lack of enough qualified lecturers in the Kenyan Universities are evident. Surprisingly, the Second best University in Kenya according to the ranking, Kenyatta university featured at number 34 in Africa and number 2907 in the world. South Africa was represented by 7 universities in the top 10 Universities in Africa. That tells you how far we are from a country that gain its independence close to 20 years ago and 30 years after Kenya did.
Though nobody will accept being referred to as a ‘Half-baked’ graduate, the kind of education Kenyans in institutions of higher learning get qualifies them to be called so. In as much as University education needs to be made affordable and available to every Kenyan, its quality should not be compromised. Allowing Public universities to admit Parallel students freely commercialized University education while Sacrificing quality of education on the Alter of Wealth.
As a remedy, the Kenyan Government should start by capping the number of Parallel students a public University can admit. University Resources and Capacity should be considered in the process. Secondly, there should be good remuneration packages for the Teaching staff to curb the brain drain that is robbing the country off its good brains. Last but not least, the government in conjunction with the universities Managements should revise their various courses offered in the various Kenyan universities to prune off duplicated courses and programs that do not add value to neither the individual student nor the country.
This Article was first published in Magazine Reel on 26th February 2014