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New faces in higher education expected to steer reform

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If there is a sector in education that has been enervated and crying for change, it is higher education. That is why President Kenyatta moved two principal secretaries from the sector. 

When Prof George Magoha took over the education docket in March last year, he pledged to overhaul it by bringing financial prudence, especially to public universities, many of which are on the verge of insolvency, and realigning most programmes with the job market and curriculum reforms.

But the momentum for the promised reforms has since waned.

Sector players, including lecturers and vice-chancellors, expected most of the pressure and assiduity to come from the PS for University Education and Research, Prof Collette Suda, who was also Education Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS), but she came woefully short.

Until Tuesday when President Kenyatta reshuffled senior government officials, Prof Suda was perhaps the only PS who was also a CAS. 

In such a huge docket with many parastatals, agencies, commissions and employees, the double appointment was both curious and injudicious.


Sensing the indecision and lack of enthusiasm for the reforms, the universities, which had began implementing some, adopted a wait-and-see attitude. None responded to Prof Magoha’s demand to come up with a report on how they thought the reforms should be carried out.

“Of course we would not have expected Prof Magoha to lead the reforms himself, given that he is in charge of such a big docket. It’s Prof Suda who should have championed them, but she didn’t,” said a vice- chancellor who declined to be named.

Prof Suda’s replacement as PS was Dr Simon Nabukwesi, a career diplomat and a specialist in education planning development.

Also transferred was Technical Vocational Education and technical Institutions PS Kevit Desai to the East African Community as PS.

Dr Desai has been struggling to popularise the 170 TVETs that have suffered remarkably low enrolment. He was replaced by Julius Jwan, the CEO of the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, apparently due to the need to harmonise the implementation of the Competency Based Curriculum and Cbet 

The President named two Chief Administrative Secretaries, little-known Zachariah Kinuthia Mugure and Ms Mumina Bonaya, but it is not clear whether they will be in the Basic, TVET, University or Post Training and Skills Development docket.

But the biggest question is why the President retained the department of Post Training and Skills Development, which has a full PS, Mr Alfred Cheruiyot, but has no budget to speak of, or a clear mandate. 

Why was it not merged with the technical or university sectors?

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