Accredition of Environment and Biosystems Engineering degree programme

By Christine N. Muchemi.

The stalemate between the University of Nairobi's department of Environmental and Biosystems Engineering (EBE) and the Engineer's Board of Kenya (EBK) formerly known as the Engineering Registration Board (ERB) has been in existence for the past eleven years since the programme was approved and setup in the University.

Since 2003, graduates from this department have walked out of the University to the grim reality that out there in the market, they are not recognized as engineers. Many therefore end up pursuing different careers altogether or settling to be technicians in existing engineering firms without the hope of ever climbing the career ladder.

So, where exactly does the problem lie and what exactly is it? Accreditation can be described an official stamp of approval that can boosttheemployabilityofgraduates at home or abroad. Accreditation means that your degree programme meets standards of excellence defined by the engineering profession, that your final qualification will be internationally recognized and that you will have a clear smooth route to a registered title (e.g. professional Engineer, Associate Engineer, Engineering Technician).

According to a document released by EBK in March 2014 dubbed "Criteria for Accreditation" there are several mandatory structures which every Engineering programme must entail to meet the minimum requirements for accreditation. Some of these include the hours spent studying the Accreditation Units (AU), availability of facilities within the University and competency of the lecturers teaching these units. The question that arises then is whether or not EBE meets the set requirements? According to correspondences between the board and the University, it does; howeveritisstatedthatthename "Environmental" does not reflect the contents of the programme and is cross cutting to all Engineering disciplines hence should not be used by any one particular programme.

The tug of war for the retention of the name Environmental, has been one of the major reasons as to why no milestone has been made thus far and as to why the board seemed reluctant to accredit the program. We cannot ignore the fact that politics has played its role in magnifying the problem and the disappointment is that the greed and selfishness of the stakeholders involved is costing many students their careers and their dreams. It is our hope that something will be done soon and that the board and University will cease apportioning blame and work together at reaching an agreement that will bring this myriad of confusion to an end.

Thank you.