University education is set to undergo significant changes when the competency-based curriculum (CBC) is implemented, despite concerns about transition preparations and the financial crisis that many public universities are experiencing.
The transition from senior secondary school is expected to occur in 2029 when more than 1.2 million Grade 5 students will enter university.
The students will begin junior secondary school in January 2023 and senior secondary school in January 2026.
According to the Task Force on Enhancing Access, Relevance, Transition, Equity, and Quality for Effective Curriculum Reforms Implementation, university enrollment will triple, necessitating significant investment in infrastructure and human resources.
Prof Fatuma Chege, who later became the principal secretary for Curriculum Reform Implementation, chaired the task force.
Around 420,000 students are expected to enrol in university, with the assumption that 33% will transfer to the university and the remaining 67% will enrol in other tertiary institutions.
University infrastructure must be seriously addressed according to the task force report.
This is a large number of people to enrol in one year, especially considering that all universities currently have a total enrolment of 510,000.
Over the next eight years, the number of students pursuing a university education is expected to increase to approximately 1.2 million.
When the data was collected last year, the University of Nairobi had the most students (80,056), followed by Kenyatta University (48,833), Moi University (32,640), Kisii University (23,134), and Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (23,134). (19,875).
Surprisingly, these universities have recently been embroiled in either administrative crises or are saddled with massive debts and face serious financial difficulties.
Bomet University College (473), Alupe University College (631), Tharaka University College (1,007), Garissa University (1,407), and Kaimosi Friends University College had the lowest enrollments (1,892).
Increased enrollment will necessitate increased funding for the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb), on which many students rely to finance their university education.
Some students have been denied loans due to the Exchequer’s underfunding of the board, with an average annual allocation of Sh37,000 per student.
University education received Sh76.3 billion in the current fiscal year, while Helb received Sh15.8 billion.
Another source of concern is a scarcity of qualified academics in universities. This will be exacerbated by a significant increase in student enrollment.
The task force stated that Kenyan universities rely heavily on part-time employees.
Furthermore, it was discovered that some of the staff are not qualified to teach academic programs in accordance with the Commission for University Education’s guidelines (CUE).
Only about 30% of university academic staff have a PhD, which is required to teach at the university level, according to the report.
According to CUE, only 5,604 lecturers had PhDs in 2019, while 8,693 others had Master’s degrees and 1,365 had Bachelor’s degrees. There were 656 people with diplomas.
“One of the proxies of quality of education offered at universities is the staff-student ratio (SSR). Overall, the SSR in Kenyan universities is above the recommended levels,” according to the report.
For example, while the recommended SSR for social sciences is 1:18, the current ratio in public universities for bachelor of education (science) is 1:186.
Veterinary medicine has the best ratio of 193 lecturers to 1,122 students, at 1:6.
The situation falls short of CUE’s expectations. As a result, given the expected roll-out of CBC by 2029 and the increased number of students enrolling in universities, the task force recommended that this be addressed.
CUE had set a December 2019 deadline for all university lecturers to obtain PhDs, but this was blocked after Machakos University and the Universities Academic Staff Union challenged the recommendation in court and had it overturned.
Prof Chege’s task force recommended that universities retool lecturers by providing CBC-responsive pedagogical training. Lower primary school teachers have been trained, while upper primary school teachers are in the process of being trained.
The Teachers Service Commission has announced that it will train secondary school teachers on the curriculum beginning next year.
Under the CBC, university education will be reduced to three years, rather than the current four. Secondary school students, on the other hand, will take longer (six years).
It is expected that they will be exposed to more advanced content in senior high school and thus spend less time in university.
According to the task force, universities should review existing curricula and align them with the Basic Education Curriculum Framework and the national agenda.