The effect of structural adjustment programmes on the university education sector in Kenya

Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) as propagated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank in the 1980s in Kenya occurred against a background of the country's declining economic performance, which increased poverty levels. The SAPs further contributed to economic recession resulting in the Government reducing per capita expenditure on education among other social services. The result was the introduction of cost sharing at all levels of education in Kenya. The cost sharing policy has adversely affected many aspects of education culminating in low enrollment rates at all levels, insufficient provision of learning resources and deterioration in the quality of educational provision. In the past, the state subsidized university education and consequently all students were capable of meeting their needs from the state funds (World bank, 1997). Cost sharing has made the cost of education unaffordable to students from poor backgrounds. The increasing economic difficulties associated with the cost sharing have meant that financing of education has become more costly. This paper provides research findings on the phenomenon of university students' involvement in income generating activities (lGAs) on campus as a response to cost sharing. These activities are not only time consuming but have direct implications on the students' academic work and social life. A survey at the University of Nairobi revealed the types of income generating activities (IGAs), reasons for starting IGAs, time spent on IGAs, and the impact of IGAs on students academic work The main finding of the study was that financial assistance to most of the students is inadequate and the quality of education among the students involved in IGAs is highly compromised. The study recommends that in spite the university initiative to raise funds from students to offer competitive services, it should seek to cater for the poor students through work study programmes that will not distract students from their studies. It also recommends that the government should avail scholarships to finance poor students. The research contributes to both policy and institutional decisions with regard to university education funding.