You don’t need PhD to be a good don

Wasomi Kujeni hapa

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cc @gashwin and other scholars here

The CUE has stated that all those without PhDs will be hired as tutorial fellows

From next year, the Commission for University Education has made it clear that only PhD degree holders will be employed as university lecturers.

It has been stated that all those without PhDs will be hired as tutorial fellows, and not assistant lecturers.

The position of assistant lecturer has been scrapped.

This has raised anxiety among the 8,000 university lecturers without PhDs.

I know some who have been university lecturers for over 20 years and who fear being demoted to tutorial fellows.

Some were my classmates and were not lucky to get Fulbright fellowships, Ford Foundation or Rockefeller Foundation scholarships as I did to pursue my PhD studies in the United States.

Some registered for PhDs and gave up after 10 years of struggle.


Had I not got a chance, I would, perhaps, still be an effective lecturer at Moi University.

I had registered for PhD in 1994, and would because of the games that go on, have received my PhD today, grey and balding.

And becoming a professor would have taken another 10 years.

Kenya has 400 full professors, 600 associate professors and less than 7,000 PhD holders.

The country needs to produce 25,000 PhDs to meet the deficit in the 73 universities.


Some 2,500 PhDs are needed annually and yet the country is producing below 200, many of them about to reach retirement age because they spend 10 years doing PhDs instead of three.

A 2016 University of Nairobi PhD graduate, Senator G. G. Kariuki, died recently aged 79.

The tutorial fellow position will be the entry level for teaching staff with master’s degrees and not assistant lecturer or lecturer.

Some people have served as assistant lecturers for 10 years without advancing to PhD.

The belief now is that if hired on contract, they will work harder to earn PhDs.


But the focus on PhDs rather than the quality of teaching is causing anxiety.

But do not get me wrong, pursuing my PhD opened my academic eyes and ears and added value.

I would NOT have written 20 books, which are better and more sophisticated because of my PhD.

But Prof Basil Davidson is perhaps one of the most widely quoted scholars on African history.

His name has appeared in almost every PhD dissertation on African history in the past 50 years.


Prof Davidson did not attend university. He had no bachelor’s, master’s or PhD degrees, and yet he was one of the most accomplished historians.

After high school, he was a reporter for various media houses, rose to university professor and wrote some of the best books of history.

He became an honorary fellow of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London so as to teach at university.

He wrote many influential books, including Africa: History of a Continent (1972), Africa in History (1966), A History of West Africa 1000-1800 (1965) and African Civilisation Revisited: From Antiquity to Modern Times (1990).


If someone had insisted on a PhD, the world would never have known him.

His name is mentioned with those of great historians B.A. Ogot, E. A. Ayandele, J. F. Ade Ajayi, A. B. Itandala, I. N Kimambo, A. J Temu, Roland Oliver, J. D. Fage, Terence Ranger; Philip Curtin, Ronald Robinson, Adu Boehen, Walter Rodney, Jack Gallagher, William Robert Ochieng’, Robert Maxon, and John Iliffe.

Ngugi wa Thiong’o is perhaps Kenya’s most famous professor.

He does not have an earned master’s or PhD, only his good bachelor’s degree and he is one of Kenya’s best known authors.


Some of the greatest African professors, including Chinua Achebe, Cyprian Ekwenzi, and Wole Soyinka never had PhDs.

Soyinka has served as professor in Ivy League universities such as Harvard, Yale, and Cornell, and other prominent universities such as Emory, Nevada, Las Vegas and Obafemi Awolowo in Nigeria.

Prof George Magoha is full professor of Surgery and distinguished urologist of no mean standing and former vice-chancellor of the University of Nairobi.

Prof Magoha does not have a PhD, but he is one the most accomplished university administrators.


A PhD is not a sine qua non to success in university teaching and research.

The University of Nairobi was made famous by scholars such as Okot P’Bitek, Taban Lo Liyong, Peter Anyumba, and Mukaru Ng’ang’a, who did not have PhDs, but just good master’s degrees.

The lack of PhDs did not deter them from teaching effectively.

Many universities in the developed countries still employ lecturers without PhDs.

The entry point is a master’s degree and many are ranked highly in terms of quality teaching, research and service to community.

Prof Amutabi is a full professor of history, Fulbright scholar and vice-chancellor of Lukenya University, Kenya. [email protected]


I taught at a university in the US after my masters degree foe a year before moving on to chase the money. They focus on talent. Out of a staff on 15 in the school, only 6 had phD’s the rest if us brought in brains, experience and achievememts.

:)let me say that we place too much premium on papers to an extent that we are producing scholars with a tunnel vision.

Enyewe why have masters and not go for the doctorate? In future pia nataka kuitwa Dr. Baby Panay.

tuko pamoja

We’re obsessed with papers at the expense of real skills.

Must have been a very small institution


Why is Magoha called Prof if he doesn’t hold a doctorate? Thought the title was the preserve of highest holders of academic achievement

Hapa naunga wewe mkono.Iko siku nitaitwa Dr…

No. The 15 was direct staff for the department within the school.