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Poor supervision cause of low quality in postgraduate studies



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Of late, there have been calls by the Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha and other top scholars to investigate the doctorate degrees from local universities.

That is timely. However, low quality of postgraduate studies has been occasioned by a number of factors. One is that supervision of master’s and PhD students is poor and uncoordinated.

The students are not well guided on how to conduct research. Further, there are few professors available for effective supervision of postgraduate students.

In some cases, universities admit students for postgraduate studies yet their libraries are not well stocked with the relevant resources. Some have insufficient teaching staff, which leads to poor coverage of content.

In sciences, very few universities have established links with industries where PhD students can be absorbed for their research, leaving them unattended for years.

I enrolled for my master’s degree in 2007 yet a number of us are yet to graduate for lack of institutions to support research proposals.

But importantly, universities must instil the desire to generate new knowledge through research and innovation.

Postgraduate students must publish their research findings in referred journals. It must be made compulsory for PhD students to publish a certain number of research papers in journals.

Publication is a rigorous exercise. The student’s work is read by many scholars, broadening supervisory aspects of the studies. Corrections are made and suggestions to improve the study passed on to the student and their supervisors.

Referred journals have a wide readership. So, postgraduate publications are read, cited and translated into practical solutions by the academia. Industries and governments refer to them.

Supervisors, though, should advise students to avoid predatory journals; they abet plagiarism, charge to publish, are not referred to by many scholars and are rarely cited.

Meanwhile, employing more teaching staff, embracing ICT in research and rewarding publications that provide solutions to our local challenges could improve the quality of postgraduate studies locally.

A recent Knec report revealed that 90 per cent of KCSE candidates in the past three years failed in sciences and mathematics.

And Education ministry statistics indicate that only about 22 per cent of university students are enrolled in science-related courses.

For Kenya to develop human and social capital through education, emphasis must be put on science and technology within the context of SDG 4, Kenya Vision 2030 and the ‘Big Four Agenda’.

Sustainable economic transformation cannot be realised unless the standards of science are raised in schools.

In the 2018/2019 budget, however, the government allocated Sh200.5 billion to education. It should be increased.

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