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Our contribution is key to university education in Kenya - Dr. Gaitho

Dr. Vincent Gaitho - Pro-Chancellor, MKU

The government should consider boosting funding to private schools, universities and colleges since it is the private sector that has the capacity and flexibility to expand faster to boost Kenya’s chances of
becoming a regional hub for education.

These were sentiments made by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) Education Board Chairman, Dr. Vincent Gaitho in an inclusive interview stressing that the private sector education providers came about to bridge the gap where government was overwhelmed with the demand.

“The churches were among the first private providers of education when it became evident that the government was not able to provide sufficient education spaces to its citizens,” he said.

Dr. Gaitho said in the nineties, the advent of private higher education, addressed the issues that were there when it came to enrolment. At that time, admission to university was pegged to bed capacity. At this point many parents started to take their children abroad to pursue university education because of the limited access locally.

“This gap then created an opportunity for private universities to admit students to curtail this dollar flight. Currently almost half of the universities in Kenya are private universities,” he added.

The don, who is also Pro-Chancellor Mount Kenya University (MKU) said the government is now funding Sh.157, 000 per student in public universities compared to Sh. 67, 000 in private universities.

“Treasury is the biggest beneficiary while students enjoy comfort of private sector ambience and conducive environment offered in the private institutions. There is always heavy traffic towards private universities whenever the government opens the inter-universities transfer window,” he said.

He urged political parties and the in-coming government to think of better ways of making public universities centres of excellence to help address national development issues than making them means of achieving shallow political interests.

“It is a high time that we cast the net wider by making the country an education hub for international students rather than fight over what the Kenyan catchment can offer,” he added.

He added that education was a big undertaking as evidenced by the huge National Budget allocation; an indication of how important education was.... It was a necessary investment as evidenced by the government and parents’ belief in the value of education to eradicate ignorance and giving people an edge to compete in life.

Dr. Gaitho lamented on the issue of double taxation especially to parents with children in private universities who despite paying taxes to support public education they had to pay to access education in private institutions.

“The private sector plays a major role in absorbing a lot of human resource that is churned into the labour market. It has provided opportunities across board; access for students, academia, support staff and industry. Government appreciates these interventions and also supports students to access university education by providing capitation,” he said.

“This in itself is an opportunity for private sector players to collaborate with academia to uplift the training in higher education in Kenya,” said Dr. Gaitho.

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