Tuesday, May 20, 2014

University enrollment in East African countries is considered too low despite their joint population of over 130 million residents.

A study conducted by the Inter-University Council of East the   East African revealed that member states have only managed to place 1.7 million students to higher institutions of learning.

 “So far we have 173 universities in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania, but according to our recent research on tertiary education in the region, results indicate that it is only about 6.4 percent of the East African population access highest levels of education,” explained Prof Mayunga Nkunya the Executive Secretary for the Inter-University Council of East Africa.

Prof Nkunya was speaking during the  4th East African Higher Education Quality Assurance Network Forum, organized by the IUCEA with support from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), under the theme of ‘Creating a quality assurance culture in the East African Higher Education Area,’ focusing on practices, challenges and prospects.

The IUCEA executive pointed out that the five East African Member states are yet to reach the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Education (UNESCO)’s higher education enrolment standard of 10 percent of a
specific population.

It has also been discovered that although Tanzania with 50 universities, has the biggest number of higher learning institutions in East Africa, the country fell behind Kenya (with only 37%) and which tops the bill in the region, as far as the students’ penetration into tertiary education level is concerned.

While Kenya leads with 7 percent enrollment, it has been observed that many students (accounting to around 25 percent) later drop from universities in the country due to the institutions’ skyrocketing fees, the highest in the

Uganda which also has higher University enrollment, was described to be the regional education mecca, because many students from other countries in the region go to study there; “And while the number in Ugandan institutions may seem high, the majority of scholars are actually foreign students,” explained Dr Warda Rajab the Director of Research at the Islamic University of Uganda.

As far as Rwanda is concerned however the 1994 genocide in which about a Million people  were killed, negatively also affected the education system in the country but rising from the ashes, Kigali has managed to jump from the
formerly single ‘National University of Rwanda’ with just 2500 students to the current 22 universities boasting over 85,000 student.

“And at the moment we are rapidly adopting to English as the main medium of instruction having moved from the past when we used to apply two languages; French and English. We find the later to be best being an international means of communication, but are keeping the former simply as independent subject,” explained Dr Baguma Abdallah the Director of Academic Quality at the Higher Education Council of Rwanda.


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