The Higher Education Loans Board in Kenya (HELB) has announced that it will stop funding all students pursuing engineering courses in Kenya, citing a market glut and lack of meaningful Return on Investment for the courses.
Speaking while unveiling the plans for the September 2020 admissions, the Board said that a lot of money was being spent on engineering students but neither the country nor the students were getting any value. Currently, 97% of all the engineering graduates are either unemployed, in self employment, or employed in totally unrelated fields.
“Why waste five years pursuing calculus and other complex things that will not be used anywhere? We are being unfair to these kids and we would rather tell them the truth.”
It further said that there is no real engineering work in Kenya, and engineers end up going into business and other useless things like online work and social media influencing because there is nothing for them to do here. “All the engineering being done in Kenya today is done by the Jua Kali sector. Go to Kariobangi and you will see them at work. These people do not have any degrees in engineering. If anyone wants to be an engineer, they can go to Kariobangi and be trained there for free.”
They further added that if there was anything important that the country needed to be done by Engineers, the Chinese are always ready and available, citing how they built the Standard Gauge Railway in Kenya without needing a single local engineer.
Engineers Board of Kenya
The Engineers Board of Kenya also supported the decision, saying that the market is saturated and Kenya does not need more engineers. “We already have over 15,000 registered Graduate Engineers and 2000 Professional Engineers. You can see that the Graduate Engineers are not interested in becoming professionals because there is nothing for them to gain in that field. Besides, there are another 30,000 engineering graduates who are not even registered with us.”
The decision was welcomed by most of the current graduate engineers, but they said that HELB needs to cancel their loans because it knowingly funded their useless courses and they are now being forced to pay a loan they never needed with money they do not have.
The decision by HELB to stop funding the engineering courses was also informed by the fact that Kenyan Universities had not made any engineering inventions in the last ten years. The closest they ever came to was the Kenyatta University made ventilator, which turned out to be a faulty bicycle pump.
It is assumed that if HELB stops funding the engineering courses, the demand for those courses will go down since they are mostly done by poor students who pass their exams and assume a course in engineering would assure them of money.