, NAIROBI, Kenya Jun 12 – Public universities were on Monday challenged to keep to their core mandate instead of deviating to other fields which lower their status.
Speaking at the opening of a two day stakeholders conference on discussing three proposed legislations touching on the higher education sector, Assistant Minister Asman Kamama complained that many universities were compromising on quality education and offering services that were far from their mandate.
“Some of these universities which are supposed to concentrate on science and technology, ( are instead offering) arts, corruption studies or history deviating completely from their core mandate,” he said.
Participants who include university vice chancellors and chairmen of national polytechnics are set to discuss the Science Technology and Innovation Bill and the Technical, Industrial Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training Bill which are aimed at streamlining the higher education sector.
The two-day conference will also deliberate on the Draft Universities Bill, which seeks to put public universities under one regulatory body and replace the Commission for Higher Education and Commission University Education.
Mr Kamama said the proposed commission will inspect and accredit schools for college or university status.
“The key objective of the Bill will be to have a harmonised and consolidated legislation, in place of the existing disharmonised environment where each public university is established through a separate Act and the process of accreditation and quality assurance is dependent on whether a university is public or private,” he said.
The new commission will have enhanced powers over the entire university sector in among others, promoting the objectives of university education, but also managing the accreditation and quality assurance of the entire sector.
He said the lack of a law to deal with university accreditation and quality control has led to a poorly managed higher education sector.
Mr Kamama said the situation has been worsened by the fact that every public university is established by an individual Act of Parliament and where matters of quality assurance of higher educating are dealt with outside the framework of the Act which establishes the universities.
At the same time, he challenged scholars to play a key role in developing the country before leaving for other countries.
The Assistant Minister cited that transformations of economies in Botswana and Rwanda had been carried out by Kenyan professionals.
“Most of the professionals who are transforming other economies in the region are your products as scholars, where is the disconnect, what are we not implementing to actually surpass what these other countries are doing?”
He challenged scholars to use the two-day meeting to cite areas that present a disconnect between the industry and the academic world.
“How are we linked to our industries to avoid our universities being ivory towers?” the Assistant Minister posed.