The establishment of a higher education open and distance learning knowledge base for decision makers in kenya



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(c) Parallel Degree Programmes


These are degree programmes offered by most of the public universities for students who meet the basic university entrance requirements of a C+ in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examination (KCSE), but missed opportunity for university admission. The main thrust for these programmes is to generate funds for the cash strapped public Kenyan universities. Students admitted in the programmes normally follow the regular university courses, with course units in the programmes having a loading of 45 hours instead of 35 hours for the regular students. These are normally considered as part-time students, with lectures falling between 5.30 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. during weekdays and 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. on Saturdays. The tuition fees vary considerably, although they are generally around Kshs. 15,000 per course unit, with students taking responsibility of their own accommodation and living expenses.

(d) The African Virtual University (AVU) – Kenyatta University

The African Virtual University (AVU) is a distance learning programme whose main missions is to bridge the digital divide and knowledge gap between Africa and the rest of the world by dramatically increasing access to global educational resources throughout Africa. This is achieved through the integration of satellite technology and the Internet to allow cost-effective and efficient delivery of educational programmes throughout the continent and increased access to global educational resources in Africa.



The AVU objectives among others include:

  • Increase access to tertiary and continuing education in Africa by reaching a large number of students and professionals in multiple sites simultaneously.

  • Improve the quality of education by tapping the best African and global academic resources, and by offering training and coaching to academics in African universities to prepare teaching materials for delivery through the AVU network.

  • Contribute to bridging the digital divide by improving connectivity in AVU learning centres and host universities and by providing training in engineering, computer science, IT and business.

The Beneficiaries of AVU include:

  • Institutions of Higher Education with activities to:

  • Increase enrolment at affordable cost

  • Access to digital library

  • Provide forum for students all over Africa

  • Provide improved quality of teaching and learning materials; and

Kenya has 2 AVU sites located in Kenyatta and Egerton Universities. The African Virtual University (AVU) started in 1997 with the pilot phase. During the pilot phase AVU sites received courses transmitted via satellites such as introduction to programming, introduction to engineering, computer organization and architecture, introduction to Internet, among others transmitted via satellite from universities in Canada, Europe and the USA.


The foregoing discussion on Distance Education programmes in Kenyan higher institutions brings out the following delivery models: -

(e) Distance Education Delivery Models In Kenya


  • Print Based Distance Education

Many of the large-scale distance education programmes in the faculty of External Studies University of Nairobi can be classified as print (paper) based Distance Education. This does not imply that there are no other support components built into the course, but points to the fact that print materials is the primary delivery strategy. The print materials are in the form of study lecture units, course notes, and practical guides.

  • Institution – Based Mode of Study

This mode of study includes the full-time residential mode in which students in the programme study with the rest of the regular Kenyatta University students or in their own groups, and the full-time institution based mode in which students opting for this mode should be in employment with any educational institution, preferably primary or secondary school during the entire period of study. Such students are required to attend residential sessions at the university during the vacation periods of August, December and April for a total period of not less than 14 weeks per year and institution-based guidance under the so-called Quality Assurance of 72 hours per academic year.
Examinations consist of coursework assessment, assessment of practicals, which contribute 50 percent, and one final university examination, which contributes another 50 per cent. At least all the units are examined by the end of the semester in session in which they are taken.

  • Mixed Mode Provision

Mixed mode programmes such as the ‘parallel’ degree courses offered for the University of Nairobi use a combination of face to face and distance learning strategies. Other diploma courses offered by Universities in Kenya, particularly Post-graduate diplomas in Education, Community Health and others are good examples of mixed mode.

  • Satellite and Web based Distance Education (The Case of the African Virtual University (AVU) Model


1.3 Other Decision Makers in the Provision of Distance Education

1.3.1 Commission for Higher Education


The commission for higher Education was established by an Act of Parliament, The Universities Act, 1985, No. 5. The mission of the commission of Higher Education is to contribute to the development of higher education system in the country by way of ensuring efficient, quality education in Kenya. It has also the responsibility of providing effective financial and administrative system at the universities. According to the university Act of 1985, No. 5, Commission of Higher Education has the following functions:

  • To promote the objectives of university education, namely the development, processing, storage and dissemination of knowledge for the benefit of mankind.

  • To advise the Minister on the establishment of public universities.

  • To co-ordinate the long-term planning staff development, scholarship and physical development of university education.

  • To promote national unity and identity in universities.

  • To liaise with government departments and the public and private sectors of the economy in matters relating to overall national manpower and requirements.

  • To cooperate with the Government in the planned development of university education.

  • To examine and approve proposals for courses of study and course regulations submitted to it by private universities.

  • To receive and consider applications from persons seeking to establish private universities in Kenya and make recommendations thereon to the Minister

  • To make regulations in respect of admission of persons seeking to enroll in universities and to provide a central admissions service to public universities.

  • To ensure the maintenance of standards for courses of study and examinations in the universities.

  • To advise and make recommendations to the Government on matters relating to university education and research requiring the consideration of the Government.

  • To collect, examine and publish information relating to university education and research.

  • To plan and provide for the financial needs of university education and research, including the recurrent and non-recurrent needs of universities.

  • To advise and make recommendations to the Government on matters relating to university education and research requiring the consideration of the Government.

  • To collect, examine and publish information relating to university education and research.

  • To plan and provide for the financial needs of university education and research, including the recurrent and non-recurrent needs of universities.

  • To determine and recommend to the Minister the allocation of grants of money for appropriation by parliament to meet the needs of university education and research and review expenditure by universities of money appropriated by parliament.

  • To advise the Government on the standardization, recognition and equation of degrees, diplomas and certificates conferred or awarded by foreign and private universities.

  • To co-ordinate education and training courses offered in post secondary school institutions for the purposes of higher education and university admission.

  • To arrange for regular visitations and inspection of private universities.


The members of the Commission For Higher Education comprise the following:

  1. A chairman and vice-chairman appointed by the President.

  2. Not more than fifteen and not less than eleven members appointed by the President.

  3. The Permanent Secretary to the Ministry for the time being responsible for university education

  4. The Permanent Secretary to the Ministry for the time being responsible for finance

  5. Four persons appointed by the Minister to represent other areas of university education.

  6. The Chief Secretary.

  7. The Director of Personnel Management.

  8. Such other persons, not more than three in number, as the Commission may co-opt.

The Commission meets at least four times in a year. During meetings major decisions are made. A quorum of not less than twelve members is required. All questions at any meeting of the commission are determined by a majority of votes of the members present. Members of the commission are organized into the following committees which deal with university education:

  • The Universities Grants Committee.

  • The Central Universities Admissions Committee.

The Commission has powers under its constitution to appoint other committees as it may think fit. Therefore, the commission shall prescribe the powers, duties and procedures of committees appointed by it and terms of office of persons appointed to those committees.
1.3.2 The Open Learning Distance Education Association of East Africa (OLDEA-EA)
This is a regional umbrella association of five countries in East Africa. Country members include Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi and Seychelles. Each of the five countries has representative national association as follows:

Kenya - Open Learning Association of Kenya (OPLAK)

Uganda - Uganda National Distance and Open Learning (UNDOL)

Tanzania - Distance Education Association of Tanzania (DEAT)

Malawi - Open Distance Education Association of Malawi (ODEAM)

Seychelles is in the process of registering the National Association.




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