PhD ‘kitu gani’? Magoha questions calibre of graduates

Thursday, August 1st, 2019 00:00 |
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha with Education PS Belio Kipsang and Knec Acting CEO Mercy Karogo. Photo/TABITHA MBATIA

Irene Githinji and Mathew Ndung’u @PeopleDailyKe

Education Cabinet secretary Prof George Magoha yesterday questioned the calibre of university graduates local institutions churn out, emphasising the need for a thorough audit of the courses being offered.

He said there is need to go beyond certificates being offered in universities and ensure learners are skilled.

Magoha said it is important to have skills than rushing to obtain a masters or doctorate degree, then complaint that there are no jobs.

“The most important thing we want to do is skill our learners so that certificates they get can add value. We are churning out people who cannot even write job application letters. Everybody wants to be called a PhD graduate... PhD kitu gani?” said Magoha.

“It is better to be employed as a cleaner and climb the ladder rather than going up to masters level and then keep saying this government is really bad and I am still looking for a job,” said Magoha at Nairobi Primary School during the Nairobi County Competence- Based Curriculum (CBC) quality dialogues.

Programmes stopped

This came as Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (Jkuat) sharply differed with reports on suspension of doctorate degrees it has awarded and stated that not a single degree has been suspended.

This is despite government investigation revealing glaring anomalies in processes that led to graduation of 118 PhDs awarded during the university’s 33rd graduation ceremony in June.

The Commission for University Education (CUE) issued a three-month ultimatum to Jkuat’s senate to review PhDs after it emerged that the institution allegedly violated the universities’ standards and guidelines which came into force in 2014.

Jkuat, was also directed to stop offering PhD programmes in its satellite campuses for lack of capacity.

The audit report found that 58 of the 89 PhDs from the College of Human Resource Development, which constitute 65 per cent, were trained in the eight satellite campuses while the majority of qualified academic staff are based at the main campus.

Overall, of the 308 PhD awarded at Jkuat in the last three years, only 160 were trained at the Juja main campus. 

The remaining 148 PhD were from the nine campuses which reportedly have no professors.

In a rejoinder, Jkuat’s Vice Chancellor Prof Victoria Ngumi termed the claims as biased and unfounded, adding that they were published without giving proper context to the report submitted by CUE to the ministry.

Meritoriously earned

“None of our awarded doctorate degrees have been suspended,” Ngumi said in a press statement issued yesterday. 

The university maintained that all degrees offered are meritoriously earned and no student is allowed to graduate without going through the due process.

Ngumi assured Kenyans that the university is committed to the ideals and values underpinning quality, relevance and professionalism in all its academic and research activities.

More on National