A study Commissioned by Pan African Education Trust and conducted by CPS Research International has shown that science education still dominates higher education in Kenya. The survey indicates that public universities have more science programmes than private ones with the number of science courses standing at 69.1 per cent while arts is 30.9 per cent. It is almost 2 to 5 times harder to find a private university offering a practical science program like nursing, engineering or computing.
University of Nairobi was ranked top among the institutions offering science courses at 282 (14 percent), followed by Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology 242 (12 per cent), Kenyatta University with 152 (7.5 per cent), Egerton University at 6.7 per cent, Maseno University at 5.6 percent while Mount Kenya University had 64 (3.1 per cent) courses at the 10th position. The university of Nairobi also topped in arts courses with 89 courses, followed by Kenyatta University with 88, Moi University (75) and Mount Kenya University with 30 arts courses.
The quality of graduates has also reentered the national discourse after the study declared “About 49 percent of the respondents think science graduates are properly trained, while 51 per cent disagreed. Most employees believe that the government should invest more in science training through assisting universities via increased funding”.
The study dubbed study dubbed “The State of Sciences Training in Kenyan Universities: Make Science Great Again” also noted that increased private sponsored teaching programmes were to blame for pulling academic staff away from research into teaching alone. “University lecturers are now like teachers, they do not have time to do research as they are doing teaching throughout the year. This is unacceptable and we have to change this practice,” said Prof. Herman Manyora CPS International’s lead consultant on 10th May 2017 as he released the study.
Funding of institutions of higher learning was also examined. The findings of the study indicated that a whopping 81 percent of revenues in public universities are generated from student fees. Some of the other findings include; there is a need for inter/intra universities collaboration, to allow for shared resources, academic programs and innovative concepts; there is a high risk of over-duplication of Science programs across universities. As lower ranked universities imitate highly ranked ones; there is a high tendency for development of only attractive programmes that attract more students; this may lead to a skewed development of programmes in universities overlooking STEM programs that may delay Vision 2030. From the survey findings, some programmes were less market-driven but mounted with the expectation of generating revenue for the respective institutions.
The researchers recommended that there is a need for outreach, dissemination, benchmarking and stakeholder involvement in setting the STEM agenda. There is a need to ensuring informed data on universities, university research and its utilization in policy making and national development is executed. There is need to refine collaboration and linkages, especially with local, regional and international partners. The government of Kenya should encourage students especially females to engage more with their STEM studies to have a progressive & enduring impact. There is a need for increased funding for STEM programs in both private and public universities as they are costly.