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APOLLO: On the ‘useless’ degree courses, Prof Magoha has got it wrong



Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has outlined a list of university courses he deems irrelevant and that must therefore be scrapped.

His argument is premised on the perceived need to align courses to market demands without citing any survey detailing how these “useless courses” are not relevant to our economy.

His argument confirms that many Africans have not understood the essence of education as espoused by its Greek progenitors like Plato, Socrates and Aristotle.

These philosophers saw education as a tool to seek and develop knowledge, as well as serving humanity, yet Prof Magoha and his ilk want to dictate to Kenyans what should be studied at university.

A university is supposed to be an enclave for learning, research and innovation. One cannot venture into new territories when we are still stuck in the decades-old mind-set of “medicine, law and engineering are the best”.

Those who love the arts should be allowed to explore. No one has monopoly over what discipline one should seek knowledge from.

If nutrition is what one feels is a way in which they can change the world, so be it. If one has chosen events management, let them be allowed to explore it to their full potential. In the US, which many of our scholars use as an academic yardstick, there’s a degree course on Rihanna, a musician, and a new one on weed (cannabis).

We miss the point when we equate the objective of education to landing employment in a country where jobs are limited.

Prof Magoha’s starting point should have been ensuring quality (adequate teaching staff and facilities).

At present, universities are akin to marketplaces, with crammed lecture halls and overworked faculty.

The CS should ask himself why we have so many people who have graduated in the field of science yet little is coming out of Kenya in terms of discovery, innovation and research. We’re encouraging people to opt for STEM, which is important, but we are not addressing the issue on why the STEM graduates are broke and jobless.

For instance, a physics graduate finds it hard to make a living out of his profession unless he goes a step further and acquires a postgraduate diploma in education and it takes years before being hired by the TSC.

The government must fix the economy and invest in higher education. We must shun the status quo thinking of “a doctor is better than a teacher”.

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