LETTER TO EDITOR

Covid-19: Public universities must embrace innovation

There are valid challenges that can be addressed along the long digitisation journey.

In Summary

• Universities are considered embodiments of intelligence and humanity expects them to provide it with solutions in times of such chaos and uncertainty.

• This is a justifiable trust considering it is in these very institutions that doctors, lawyers, economists, managers, computer engineers among many other professionals are made.

A university student on distance learning from home on April 25. It's been over a month since schools closed due to coronavirus. Lectures and teachers have opted to carry on with studies on the internet
A university student on distance learning from home on April 25. It's been over a month since schools closed due to coronavirus. Lectures and teachers have opted to carry on with studies on the internet
Image: CHARLENE MALWA

Without a doubt, Covid-19 has blatantly exposed the level of emergency unpreparedness of key political, economic and social institutions in Kenya and the world over.

Universities are considered embodiments of intelligence and humanity expects them to provide it with solutions in times of such chaos and uncertainty. This is a justifiable trust considering it is in these very institutions that doctors, lawyers, economists, managers, computer engineers among many other professionals are made. The fact that most of our Kenyan public universities seem to have been caught unawares by the pandemic can be forgiven.

What cannot be forgiven is their unwillingness to quickly adapt. After all, it is in universities where people spit complex doctrines of agile risk management.

It is beyond comprehension that some academicians in public universities still need boardroom meetings to be held and votes be cast on whether or not curriculums will be digitised, teaching will be done online, examinations will be taken online and oh yes, graduation ceremonies will be virtual.

The answer to these questions is a unanimous yes and any don who is anti-innovation just signed their resignation letter. We are not oblivious of the fact that some of our learners come from economically poor backgrounds and may not afford laptops, smart phones and internet, while others come from areas with poor telecommunication network coverage. These are valid challenges that can be addressed along the long digitisation journey.

For here and now, both the song and the chorus our public universities professors must sing loudly is that of death to dinosaur methodologies.

Dr Kevin Wachira and Dr Robert Ombati

Lecturers, South Eastern Kenya University