What roles have universities in East Africa played in the politics of nation building?

Professor Michael Mwenda Kithinji seeks to unravel the connection between universities and the state in East Africa

02 April 2019 - 14:01
Colonial Foundations and Postcolonial Transformations in Kenya.
The State and the University Experience in East Africa: Colonial Foundations and Postcolonial Transformations in Kenya.
Image: UNISA Press

In The State and the University Experience in East Africa, Professor Kithinji explores the critical yet unacknowledged role that universities have played in the politics of statehood and nation building.

He demonstrate how successive colonial and postcolonial governments have sought to use university education as a means to advance political and economic interests. He seeks to unravel the connection between universities and the state in East Africa, particularly in Kenya.

Thorough narrative and analytical history of the policies and politics of university education in the past half-century and more explore the forces that have influenced the development of universities.

This study identifies three major policy trends that have shaped university education.

Beginning from 1949, when the British colonial government founded Makerere University College in Uganda as the first degree granting institution for East Africa, until 2002, when the second President of Kenya, Daniel arap Moi, retired from office and his Kenya African National Union (KANU) that had ruled since independence in 1963 lost power.

By investigating the dynamics that have influenced higher-education policies in Kenya and the wider East African region, this study links the higher education discourse with the state-building narrative and conceives university policies as a product of the forces informing the historical trajectory of Kenya in particular and the wider East African region in general.

The State and the University Experience in East Africa will be of great interest to scholars of the African continent, some of whom may be inspired to rewrite the story of tertiary education and state formation in other parts of Africa by an equally meticulous examination of primary sources as demonstrated in this work.

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