For decades donors have played an important role in supporting higher education the world over. Kenya has not been an exception. There have been changes in donor investments in Kenyan higher education over the past 30 years. These changes have impacted the sector in various ways. From independence the responsibility for higher education in Kenya was borne by the state. This changed when two decades later the government introduced cost sharing, due to the influence of donors.
This study discusses the changes that have taken place in the higher education sector in Kenya with regard to donor support. It focuses on two important donors in Kenya, the World Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). From 1985 to 1989, 17 percent of the World Bank’s worldwide education-sector spending was on higher education. But from 1995 to 1999, the proportion allotted to higher education declined to just 7 percent. The technical and financial aspects of donor support are highlighted to draw out their contribution to Kenyan higher education. Higher education is identified as one of the sectors to advance the objectives of donors through development of skills. This study finds that in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, donors recommended reductions in support for higher education based on the assumption that it produced low returns on investment. Recent evidence suggests that higher education can produce both public and private benefits (Bloom et al 2006).
Donors have now changed to acknowledge higher education as an important contributor to development. In the recent past there has been a general consensus in the donor arena that higher education in developing countries has been neglected for long enough (Mamdani 2006). Supporting higher education has been proposed by donors, but the resources to back up their commitment are still not in tandem with their recommendation.
Keywords: Changes, Higher Education (HE), Kenya, Donors