Kenyan lecturers face axe after rolls fall

April 26, 1996

Kenya's state universities could scale down departments and declare lecturers redundant, following falling student enrolments.

Philosophy, religious studies, geography, history and sociology are heavily affected. Others are agriculture, veterinary medicine and secretarial studies.

The problem, according to senior professors at the University of Nairobi, was due to poor planning and management. They argued that in 1990/91 the government expanded enrolments from a modest 20,000 to 41,000. Some classes, especially at Kenyatta University, had 1,000 students.

The government also allowed all universities to open new degree programmes, forcing the science and technology-oriented Moi and Egerton universities to recruit liberal arts lecturers from universities like Nairobi and Kenyatta.

An oversupply of teachers in history, geography, religious studies and business studies has led to a drift in trainee teachers from liberal arts departments.

This year only 40 students registered in Kenyatta's department of religious studies, which had over 200 students five years ago. There are similarly only 40 history students in the first year and another 56 in their second year.

The situation is similar in other public universities. At the University of Nairobi, plans are underway to scrap the religious studies degree programme if enrolment continues to fall. History may also go the same way. Unless enrolment improves many of the lecturers may be declared redundant.

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