Kenya banking on innovative financing to revitalize higher education

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Kenya will adopt innovative financing models to revitalize tertiary education that is key to realization of the country's growth and transformation agenda, a government official said on Monday.

George Magoha, cabinet secretary for education, said the government will reach out to industry, foundations and fund managers to help bridge a financing gap that has undermined learning and research in colleges and universities.

"The country has seen an exponential growth in the number of tertiary institutions but underfunding has affected quality of teaching and research needed to achieve industrial growth," said Magoha.

Magoha spoke during a forum to review the status of higher education in Kenya organized by the Kenyan government in partnership with the World Bank.

Senior policymakers, representatives of donors and scholars attending the two-day forum agreed that Kenya required a paradigm shift to realize financial sustainability of tertiary institutions.

Magoha said the government has enacted robust policy and regulatory incentives to attract funding from the private sector and upgrade institutions of higher learning.

"We intend to promote domestic resource mobilization to ensure our universities and colleges are modernized and well equipped to handle cutting-edge research," said Magoha.

He said that Kenya will borrow international best practices to strengthen academia industry linkages in order to address skills gap that is to blame for rampant youth unemployment.

Kenya's 74 public and private universities continue to experience high enrollment rates driven by rising incomes and quest for 21st century skills among the country's youth.

Experts said that smart investments are required to expand physical infrastructure and boost transition from high school to universities.

"Kenya's tertiary institutions should tap into non-traditional funding models like reaching out to alumni and listed companies to modernize infrastructure that support training and research," said Jamil Samil, a former World Bank tertiary education coordinator. 

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