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EDITORIAL: Invest in non-tertiary training institutions

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EDITORIAL: Invest in non-tertiary training institutions

A past graduation ceremony. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The parallel degree programme opened doors for those could not get admission into the public universities because they could not make the cutoff point. It gave those who had achieved the minimum university entry grade of C+ a lifeline and at the same time afforded the institutions much-needed revenue.

But it is now on sure death following the closing of the loopholes in the examination system that allowed many unqualified students to achieve the minimum marks. That is why university student the numbers have dropped for the first time in 21 years.

And it is just as well because the parallel system could well have compromised the educational standards, only that no conclusive studies have revealed such. The programme may well have had a sinister side to it and also contributed to inequality given that it is only the rich who could pay their way into the parallel system.

For one, it encouraged students to do all they could including cheating if only to find a place in the university especially for those who could bribe their way in, which in turn meant it was those from financially well-off backgrounds.

When it came to payments for the programme, it was also those from wealthy backgrounds who could pay – with some courses requiring as much as Sh500,000 annually – and those who could not were edged out. While this will mean that the universities will have to lose critical financial support, the government can come in through higher allocations to them using the national Budget.

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There is an opportunity for those who could not get into the university system to join other colleges including vocational training colleges. Non-university tertiary institutions may have suffered quite a bit with the parallel degree system – probably peopled with some who had cheated their way in the examinations – having taken a good number of the students away from qualifications that were probably better suited to the needs of many employers.

The State, being in charge of the institutions, should therefore strengthen them including getting them enough teachers and facilities.

The other issue is to ensure that the training institutions teach courses that are relevant to industry or employers because that is the area that universities have been fairly weak. That means linking better with industry to understand their needs.



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