Quota System should be used in selection to public Universities in Kenya
By Maurice N. Amutabi, PhD
The selection for University first year admission has first been completed and as usual national schools and high cost private schools have run away with the majority of slots for premium degree programmes such as Law, Medicine, Engineering, Architecture and Dentistry. There is a problem that we are creating in which students from county and sub-county schools do not have opportunity to send their students to premier and popular programmes at our public Universities.
The Ministry of Education Science and Technology may need to create a quota system in which students who attend national schools should not be weighted on the same scale as students from poor sub-county schools. This should be difficult. It needs to change.
The cut off points established by the Kenya Universities & Colleges Central Placement Board was 60 points for boys and 58 points for girls. The assumption is that boys and girls have the same facilities.
There is a feeling that cut off points for students from national schools, county and sub-county schools should be different. Cut off points for students from poor sub-county schools should be lowered so that those getting C+ of 54 points should be put on the same place with those who score A in a national school.
There is need to have separate cluster requirements for students from poor schools in order for them to access prestigious programmes at out universities. If this is not done, there is no way students from these schools will ever succeed to be sponsored by the government.
Government sponsored students pay about KShs.8,000/= per semester, which is heavily subsidized by the government, whereas privately sponsored students pay about KShs.50,000/= per semester on average. It is unfortunate that children from rich families who make the bulk of students from good performing national schools and private schools are the ones whose fees is subsidized and yet the students from poor school and poor backgrounds are the ones who deserve to be subsidized.
Students from poor county and sub-county schools work very hard to get even C+ on the KCSE exams. It is not the same with students from national schools which have the best facilities and adequate teaching staff. We cannot compare this with students from sub-county schools which do not have adequate facilities and teaching staff and operate under very hard and difficult conditions.
Research has revealed that students who enter University with C+ as privately sponsored students do as well and sometimes even better than those who come in with B+ and above, under Government sponsorship. It will therefore only be fair to open, say 40% of slots in premium programmes such as Law and Medicine to students from county and sub-county schools, and allow those getting C+ to come in under government sponsorship from such programmes.
In countries such as South Africa, students who come from rich and well endowed former white only schools are selected on higher points compared to students from formerly historically black schools in rural and poor neighbourhoods. Kenya needs to have a similar arrangement in order to assist students from poor rural schools and informal settlements to get opportunity to benefit from government subsidy.
Prof. Maurice N. Amutabi is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic and Students Affairs), Kisii University. Amutabi@yahoo.com