The training of architects in Kenya is facing a credibility challenge as it emerges that only one university offers a validated course.
According to the President of the Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK), Waweru Gathecha, only the University of Nairobi is validated to train architects in the country.
Other universities currently offering the course have put the qualifications of their students in jeopardy by not presenting themselves for a thorough validation process to ascertain the quality and standards of the training they offer.
“Validation is a process where international architect trainers meet and put to the test a training programme offered by the institutions,” said Gathecha, who calls it a peer review mechanism.
He said this is a five-year exercise besides the validation by the Council of University Education (CUE).
As a result, it is only University of Nairobi students who can afford to have credit transfer, say, to other universities outside Kenya such as in South Africa or Europe.
Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), has had its five-year validation elapse since their last one was in 2010. According to Gathecha, JKUAT failed to present itself before a peer review process in 2015 as required by the professional standards of architectural training.
A similar fate is facing Kenyatta University whose Bachelor of Architecture programme has never been subjected to validation.
It is the same case with Maseno University and other campuses, including Technical University of Kenya as well as Technical University of Mombasa and other private universities currently running or planning to run the training of architects in country.
JKUAT Architecture HOD Mr Nadi Omar Hashim response on validation. “Yes its true our last validation was in 2010 but the Universirty is in the process to get the right validation.We had some challenges including the fact that some students were in session during the time validation was to take place. On lack of capacity, we have enough lecturers andany other concerns are being addressed by the university management”.
Gathecha has called on policy makers to create a conducive environment for architects to build low-cost and affordable housing for all Kenyans. This, he says, should include low interest rates.
He says one of the challenges facing the property industry is money laundering, which he says has contributed to high land and property prices.
“The construction industry and property has been used as a conduit for cleaning money in this country for a long time, making prices soar,” he says, adding only people with money continue to build.
He says more architects are required to build houses that take care of the rising population in the country.
However, he says the government should provide a good legal and policy environment to allow the private sector to invest in affordable housing.