Making the University relevant to society

  • Mary Njeri Kinyanjui Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi.


There is need to change the narrative on Kenyan universities. Quality is an issue giving rise to hard questions. What are the standards of measurements? What ails the universities? What purposes does the university serve and how do we make it relevant?

If there was quality, it began to fall during the span of my thirty years of university teaching. People of my generation, and those after me, should take full responsibility for the falling standards in the university. My Masters Supervisor Prof Michael Darkoh, passed on the baton to me to pursue economic geography and I have tried to pursue it amidst great odds. While he lived in university housing close to his place of work, the University of Nairobi recruited and then failed to house me. I settled in Zimmerman and had to take a matatu (minibus) to work everyday. He took his children to St Marys, I could not afford to do so.

Key words: University, relevance, quality, education, Kenya

Author Biography

Mary Njeri Kinyanjui, Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi.

Mary Njeri Kinyanjui is a mother, writer, researcher, teacher, community organizer volunteer and a firm believer in social economic justice and self reliance. She is a senior research fellow at the Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi. She holds a PhD in Geography from Fitwilliam College, Cambridge University. She has researched on economic informality,   grassroots and indigenous institutions in the organization of economic behavior, small business, gender and trade justice and peasant organizations. Her current research is on the positioning of women peasants, artisans and traders in the global economy. Where she is looking at their incorporation in production and exchange in a monetized economy and role of money in their  well being and wealth.   Some of her publications include: 2013 Women Informal Garment Traders in Taveta Road’ Nairobi: From the Margins to the Centre: African Studies  Review 56 (3) 147-165, 2013; Vyama, Institutions of Hope: Ordinary People’s Market Coordination and Society Organization Alternatives. Nairobi: Nsemia Publishers (2012).  She has recently published a book entitled: Women and Economic Informality in Africa: From the Margins to the Centre. Zed Books 2014.  She has also published Coffee Time Laanga Press, 2015. She has recently produced an article ‘Ubuntu nests and the emergence of the African Metropolis’, in the September,2016 issue of the Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography. Her forth coming book on Traders and Artisans in Nairobi: Utu-Ubuntu Business model, Cultural Villages and the African Metropolis will be published by African Minds in 2017.  She is also working on a manuscript entitled sweet sobs. She occasionally writes for the World Policy Institute’s Africa program Blog and African Executive. She has been a resident at the Rockefeller Bellagio centre Italy; Stellenbosch Institute of African Studies, Nordic Africa Institute, United Nations Institute for Research and Development and Open University.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1998-1279