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Public & Private Universities in Kenya: New Challenges, Issues & Achievements

Overview

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This is a two-part volume on the situation of public and private universities in Kenya confronting the reform of their institutions in the context of four decades of rapid growth of the higher education sector as a whole.

The volume contains an introduction by Dr. Kilemi Mwiria, Assistant Minister of Education in Kenya that places the current state of public and private universities described in this volume in the context of the inherited legacy from the past and, more importantly, within a framework of policy intentions for the future and to anticipate likely changes in university purposes, management and practice. From that Introduction:

In January 2003 a new government took over in Kenya in a peaceful electoral transition that reflected the ultimate popular rejection of 25 years of one-party autocratic rule. It came to power on the promise of creating a more open, less fearful society that would be transparent in its practice, decentralized in its style, accountable in its procedures, meritocratic in recruitment, efficient in use of resources and relevant in objectives and outcomes—in short a more democratic dispensation. The proposed less politicized context had immediate relevance to the management of Kenya's universities. Early evidence was provided by the removal of the requirement that the President be the titular head of all public universities and more generally by the beginnings of a move towards greater autonomy for universities in the management of their internal affairs and the removal of the somewhat autocratic culture, which had mirrored that of society itself.

The analytical essays on public and private universities in Kenya that make up this two-part volume were conceived and written before this change in political culture. Indeed, the section on public universities focuses on reforms that were possible in the interstices of official policy and despite government interventions. The private universities were less subject to government intrusion but nevertheless were bound by broad regulatory measures established by the Commission for Higher Education (CHE) and, while able to exercise relatively greater autonomy than their public colleagues, were not entirely immune to the surrounding official culture. Although we are in the early days of the new dispensation, it is important to place the current state of public and private universities described in this volume in the context of the inherited legacy from the past and, more importantly, within a framework of policy intentions for the future and to anticipate likely changes in university purposes, management and practice. This introduction attempts to address these broad themes.

Commissioned by the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations of the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa, the local scholars carried out the Kenya studies, using a methodology that incorporates feedback from the institutions under study and involving a broad range of stakeholders. For the private universities part of the volume, the Ford Foundation funded a group of young scholars as a way of encouraging first-rate work from younger and less experienced researchers.

This volume illustrates both the contemporary situation and the government's reformist intentions toward public and private universities in Kenya. What it shows above all is the extent to which public and private universities can learn from and complement each other.

© 2017 Partnership for Higher Education in Africa. Last updated: 12 October 2010