Transforming University Education in Africa: Lessons from Kenya

Kenya has attached great interest in education as a stimulant for economic and social development since 1963. Higher education evolution and transformation in Kenya has been rapid following increased demand and pressure from the public for quality and relevance in university programs, teaching and research to society and industry. This has led to calls for innovative, adaptive and futuristic approach to teaching and learning. Given the progressive growth of the sector, a number of measures have been and continue to be enforced and undertaken to ensure that the universities comply and deliver on their mandates of teaching, training, and research and community engagement. To strengthen and solidify these reforms, the Government of Kenya amended and produced the new universities act. Some of the critical issues addressed in the new act include: Access and equity; Quality and relevance of University Education; Financing Higher Education; Governance and Leadership; Research and Innovation; and Postgraduate Training and Internationalization of Education. In response to this, several universities in Kenya have recently established innovation centers, incubation hubs, and are building sustainable university-industry linkages. It has now been realized that while some changes and transformation can be voluntary, it is important that policy and legal reforms be undertaken to cement and produce lasting changes in this dynamic sector. The Creation of an institution such as the Commission for University Education (CUE), to develop, implement, enforce and monitor regulations, standards and policies is important in keeping momentum and ensuring that targeted results are achieved. This paper discusses recent reforms within the University sector in Kenya, pointing out the challenges experienced and lessons learnt owing to the rapid expansion of the sector and makes recommendations on strategic issues on how to build a resilient, vibrant and sustainable university education sector for the country; with lessons for other countries within the African continent.
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East Africa
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Publication of this article has been made possible through the Transforming African Agricultural Universities to meaningfully contribute to Africa’s growth and development (TAGDev) Project funded by MasterCard Foundation.