We must commend the students who sat this year’s KCSE for registering an impressive performance, where those with C+ and above jumped by 39 percent, which in my opinion presents another challenge for higher education financing and development in Kenya.
This increase has not been matched by an addition of infrastructure and accommodation facilities in these institutions. We have seen reports of these institutions almost reaching a point of being auctioned and hence meaning that they cannot meet their operations costs, leave alone expanding the existing infrastructure.
This has constrained the ability of the institutions to provide quality learning and teaching. Students are forced to seek for accommodation outside the schools, often at greater danger and risks to their lives. Lecturers cannot find new publications and books for advancement in research from the outdated libraries existing in these institutions, the twin issues which makes us to churn out half-baked individuals, which then hurts our development orientations.
Institutions of higher learning should diversify their sources of funding and stop being overly reliant on the national government. Some of these institutions have big chunks of land, which they can enter into Public Private Partnerships (PPP) arrangements with developers to finance and operate the required academic and accommodation facilities.
Under land swap model of PPP, an entity can lease land to developers who then install develop required infrastructure as per the specifications, operate it for some time, during which, they recoup their investments, after which the facility reverts to the public institution.
Private players have the ability to mobilise financing, technology, innovation and effectiveness in delivering such envisaged infrastructure. The commercial centres for example will directly earn the revenue once the private parties have handed over the facilities to these institutions. In addition, institutions of higher learning can tap high net worth individuals who can invest in such institutions in exchange of naming rights or other agreements.
Higher learning institutions can use the power and influence gained by their alumni to source development funding opportunities, but the question is, how many universities keep a record and track of their students after graduation? Alumni can be used to develop any infrastructure and facilities needed, seek grants, donations and support education endowment funds to benefit students from poor backgrounds.
All these innovations can happen under the enabling environment created by the higher education institutions leadership.
The current crisis can be turned into an opportunity for increased investments by private sector and hence a development boom for the country; alongside ensuring high intakes for students who complete school.
Daniel Mutegi Giti, Ph.D. candidate in Urban management, University of Nairobi.