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Concern over poor supervision, moonlighting and cheating in Kenya

Kenya’s higher education sector faces a myriad challenges that could undermine quality, the cabinet secretary for education has said.

Speaking during a consultative meeting on issues affecting education in Nairobi on 28 May, Jacob Kaimenyi enumerated concerns raised by players in the sector.

For example, higher education institutions faced allegations that poor supervision of postgraduate students has contributed to low completion rates: “Sometimes lecturers take too long to mark theses, thus students who could have completed their masters programmes in three years end up spending over 10 years.”

On claims that lecturers teach in several universities, he said this ‘moonlighting’ for monetary gain leaves them fatigued and spending less time on research.

Kaimenyi said there were rumours of lectures being paid by students to write their theses and allegations that some lectures were having affairs with students for better grades: “This is shameful and if it’s happening we need to address it promptly.”

Other participants said some of the allegations were true, but that such practices were driven in part by poor funding of public universities.

“Why is it that universities are increasing alongside the student population yet funding is static or declining?” asked Sammy Kubasu, chairman of the Universities Academic Staff Union.

Kaimenyi said his ministry is taking steps to establish a National Research Fund as well as a University Fund to lend money to universities.

He said the ministry would work with its agencies, such as the Commission for University Education, and with vice-chancellors, to ensure quality in higher education and adherence to standards.

Participants at the meeting included representatives of public and private universities and the Federation of Kenyan Employers.