Education Business Owners laughing all the way to the bank, but where are the innovators?


Having come from a technical background as far as school is concerned I have a deep-seated tendency to analyse everything. I have not found sufficient use for this save for the post in this blog. Taking a visit back to my alma mater left me wondering about a number of things.

The foremost was the immense amounts of revenues that educational institutions of the post secondary variety are enjoying in recent times. The sheer spending power of the masses has for some time now been focused solely on the acquisition of better qualifications for themselves and their kin. The schools and colleges on the end of this financial spending spree are flush with cash and the foot is pedal to the floor as far as expansion is concerned.

Kenyatta university has emerged as a serious player with acquisitions of real estate as well as hospitality concerns that have raised the eyebrows amongst the business community. We all can see the schools and colleges are getting money but we cannot really tell how much.

The JKUAT Racing Team! Wouldn’t that make you want to be a mechanical engineer?

Apart from private concerns so-called public institutions have no shareholders to answer to. With raw financial muscle these schools have moved on to make huge investments in areas that they deem profitable and rightfully so. However little has been witnessed in as far as innovation is concerned.

It is only the other day when Kenyatta University announced that soon students would enjoy broadband services in the comfort of their rooms. Just coming back from Juja I witnessed that the same school had already introduced Shuttle services for its student population. If there was a word for progress then these few observations would summarize it.

As more and more people increase their wages and earnings the values held dear by the middle class will spread and the importance of higher education will remain a mandatory feature on the expenses of many a Kenyan families. Yet the glaring deficiencies in quality and investment in Technical education are an appalling feature of schools. My alma mater has yet to acquire a working model of a 4 cylinder engine to be used by automotive engineering students. All technical education don’s seem to be doing is a mad rush at erecting classroom blocks and printing glossy brochures with internet extracted photos of highways and manufacturing concerns overseas to market their hollow technical degrees.

Aside from the electrical and electronic courses whose learning materials continue to fall in cost as processing speeds double every 18 months and costs halve in the same duration mechanical engineering courses are hard pressed at providing relevant technical backgrounds for their students.

It amazes me that JKUAT is not a veritable automotive body building concern what with the need for 49-51 seater buses in the market. Fabrication is also an area of good growth with the construction industry enjoying resilient growth. I for one know that these businesses are being carried out with minimum fuss by individuals who have not enjoyed the boardroom ambience and ten o’clock tea times that technical education don’s enjoy many a mornings in their regular meetings.

The Kenya rally scene is a prospective marketing arena for any serious automotive technology institution. It costs 40 million shillings to field a team a sum that many schools JKUAT included would cough up in a heartbeat. Yet they lack even the basic hands on knowledge or desire to run an auto garage.

The above reason will mean that for some time now and rightfully so quite a large number of succesful business men offering technical services and goods will be off the blue-collar variety. Tertiary institutions have a long way to go in technical education provision. It is perhaps ok that few parents know exactly what it means to study mechanical engineering in Kenya. This remains a challenge I face on the day-to-day where there are many needs in the market yet few resources geared to meet them.

Making your first million while under the bonnet of a Toyota is a veritable success path in this day and age. With all the advancement that computers have brought and Kenya boasting a fully fledged 3G network, we all still ride in

The JKUAT Racing Team! Wouldn’t that make you want to be a mechanical engineer?

appalling public service vehicles and our train network evokes memories of 1940. Where are the innovators?

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