The functioning of the Open University of Kenya

President William Ruto inaugurated the Open University of Kenya on Thursday, a groundbreaking development in the higher education sector that has been under development for many years.

The OUK is anticipated to mark a significant turning point in the realm of education, offering enhanced access to affordable and quality learning opportunities in the country. The government’s ambitious goal of achieving a 100 per cent transition to university underscores the importance of this initiative in shaping the future of education.

President Ruto’s administration is determined to revolutionize the educational landscape by providing competitive and industry-driven learning experiences. The focus is on aligning education with the government’s broader economic transformation agenda, ensuring that graduates are equipped with the skills and knowledge required to thrive in the ever-evolving job market.

With the OUK project at the forefront of educational reforms, there is hope for a brighter future, where students from all backgrounds can pursue higher education and contribute significantly to the nation’s progress. The government’s dedication to this cause reflects a commitment to fostering a well-educated and skilled workforce that can drive innovation and economic growth in the country.

The functioning of the Open University of Kenya explained

However, what exactly is an Open University?

  • The Open University of Kenya is a virtual learning institution offering learners the convenience of studying from their homes or workplaces.
  • UNESCO defines open or self-paced learning as an educational philosophy that allows learning to occur anywhere, anytime, and from any resource, influencing face-to-face institutions’ practices.
  • The university embraces distance learning, enabling students to access physical classes regardless of their location.
  • Unlike traditional universities with entry requirements, open universities like this one accept students regardless of age or educational background.
  • The flexibility of this approach provides learning opportunities for individuals with regular work commitments or those geographically dispersed.
  • Students can virtually attend live lectures using various electronic devices, and course content can be pre-prepared and delivered in print or electronic modules.

The history of open University of Kenya

Despite the establishment of the African Virtual University in 1997, the mainstreaming of distance learning to increase access to higher education in Kenya remained underdeveloped and underfunded.To address this issue and broaden university education accessibility for more Kenyans, they introduced the proposal for a Kenyan Open University.Various policy documents and reports, including Sessional Paper No. 1 of 2005, the Report of the Public Universities Inspection Board (2007), the National Strategy for University Education (2008), and the Road Map for Open University (Rumble Report 2008), emphasized the importance of an open university to break conventional barriers and cater to those who qualify through the formal system but face challenges securing places in traditional universities.

In 2011, the Open University’s Blue Print Report included recommendations from the CUE, emphasizing priority academic fields for the envisioned open university.

On January 9, 2014, the then Education Cabinet Secretary, Jacob Kaimenyi, appointed a task force on the open university, with Prof. Peter Erastus Kinyanjui as the chairperson and members Dr. Guantai Mboroki, Dr. Joyce Agalo, Dr. Speranza Ndege, Dr. Henry Rono, Jeckoniah Odumbe, Dr. Judith W. Kamau, Julius Otieno, and Rispa Odongo.

The Cabinet approved the proposal to establish a national open university in August 2016, but it remained a dream until this year.

On May 26, 2023, the Technical Working Committee of the OUK, chaired by Professor Ezra Maritim, submitted its progress report to the Cabinet Secretary.

How open university of Kenya will work

Open learning has a historical origin rooted in the practice of learning by correspondence, where students would receive course content through the mail and submit assignments using the same medium. However, with the advancements in technology, the interaction between students and lecturers has become much more accessible and seamless. As a result, the difference between conventional universities and open universities has significantly diminished.

One of the key advantages of open learning is its reputation as an affordable and inclusive educational approach. By breaking down geographical barriers, open learning allows education to reach a broader audience, making it accessible to many people who may have otherwise faced limitations in accessing traditional educational institutions. This accessibility is seen as a crucial step in democratizing education and empowering individuals to pursue learning regardless of their location.

Moreover, open learning takes into consideration the unique constraints and preferences of learners. It offers a level of flexibility that allows students to choose the number of units or courses they wish to study based on their availability and financial resources. This adaptability enables individuals to tailor their learning experience to fit their personal circumstances, fostering a conducive environment for continuous learning and skill development.


The Open University of Kenya offers virtual learning, providing convenience for students to study from anywhere.


The Open University of Kenya offers virtual learning, providing convenience for students to study from anywhere.

The university welcomes students of all ages and backgrounds, promoting inclusivity and accessibility in education. Course content is delivered through print or electronic modules, with virtual attendance for live lectures.

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