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Bridging skills gap in Kenya’s education sector

This month has seen many  universities in Kenya churn out graduates into the job market. After four years of undergraduate training, these students are highly expectant to join the market and reward themselves for a four-year job well done.

But some experts in academia cite huge inconsistencies between the course content offered in the learning institutions and the practical skills needed at the workplace. Dr Dominic Mwenja, the President and founder of Miramar International College in Kenya says there is a huge disconnect in the workplace because our curriculum is exam-driven.

“There us need to have international level skills if we are to achieve a developed country status. We should not teach just to pass examinations,” says  Dr Mwenja.  Speaking last week during the launch of the collaboration between California Miramar University and the East african University, Dr Mwenja urged the government and the regulatory environment in Kenya to be more supportive of local institutions of higher learning.

“Vision 2030 calls for massive investment in different sectors of our economy, but this vision will not be achieved if we do not invest heavily in human capital. Our universities and colleges are, and should be, the drinving force behind this effort,” he said.

With the country currently registering only 8,000 PhD holders, contrary to the required 30,000, this points to a real need in the higher education sector. Mwenja says in order for Kenya to bridge this gap, it is likely to take 30 years to meet the current demand.

He explained that the collaboration between the two institutions will work on the Masters in Business Administration and Doctorate of Business Administration programmes while the other undergraduate and graduate programmes will be offered online until the university completes the campus it is building in Gilgil.

According to Education For All , The 2015 National Review by the Ministry of education, Science and Technology, conversion of mid-level vocational colleges to universities has been a major challenge to the development of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET). In addition, the TVET institutions cannot effectively accommodate the number of school leavers from primary and secondary schools.

“Other issues confronting policy markers include the relevance of the skills taught to the dynamic market demands and the terminal nature of TVET training including the lack of sufficient training opportunities for TVET at higher and post graduate levels,” says the report.

Dr Mwenje emphasises the need to  increase the capacity to train graduate students who will fill the high demand in the country. “Collaborations have a big role to play to address this shortage as well as increasing the relevance of the programmes being offered in the universities,” he said.

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