Review of Historical Studies on Maseno University



Education in Western Kenya

A number of studies have been done in the involvement of missionaries in Western Kenya. It is worth to note again that the construction of the railway line was of great benefit to the missionary activity in the region.

They have contributed greatly to the improving of primary and secondary education in the Western part of Kenya and certainly too all the parts that they had an undertaking.

Western part of Kenya also had its share in educational developments; Bogonko (1992) has made known the involvement of missionaries in the development of education in the whole of Kenya and more prominence in Western Kenya and Nyanza province.

The greatest importance in the region was the completion of the Kenya – Uganda Railway, or the fact that this railway line could make it possible to move from the Coastal port to Western Kenya. This made it possible for the outsiders of the western region and particularly the missionary group to have access to this part of the country. The Western region could not be reached earlier on as the terrain in the savannah was harsh and full of very dangerous animals.

The other factor was the Nandi people were a very fierce group and so were the very hostile Maasai people who could not allow any foreigner to easily cross their land. Therefore the making of this crucial railway line made it very easy for people to move from the Coastal region to the other far parts of Western Kenya, which initially was difficult to go. His study shows that in all the regions in the country the input of these missionaries is of immense impact.

The Anglican Church did play a major role in the educational development in this region alongside with other churches. They first entered this region from Uganda after a fallout with the Ugandan rulers and as a measure for further expansion.

The Anglican Church has greatly contributed to the educational and social change in Western part of the country. Some of the impact also includes the economic change that has been witnessed in that place as is documented by Elizabeth A Nzioki (1986). Her study focuses on the religious impact that the church had on the Luo people in the region. This however does not exclude the impact of educational activities done by the Church Missionary Society in the said region. Accordingly, Maseno School was established in the region and became an important centre within the educational realms in the location. One of the most important institutions that was set up in this part of Kenya by the Anglican Church was Maseno School, Karani (1974).

Karani (1974) studies the role played by the CMS in education and more so on the case of Maseno School. She gives a brief prelude of how the missionary movement into Western Kenya, in terms of how the school were opened.

Accordingly, the Church Missionary Society had a central school at Maseno (1906). Her study proceeds to document the work of the CMS and the establishment of Maseno School and the contribution that it has made in the local society around Maseno and beyond. Karani‟s study contends that by 1927 there were 67 central schools most of which 13 were to be found in western part of Kenya. Her study brings to light the fact that the CMS had both an evangelical and industrial approach to education at the Maseno centre.

It also gives a detailed aim and background information on the setting up of the school within its present locality. Karani also cites a case when attempts had been made by one Rev. J. C. Hirst in 1920 to prepare teachers for the Village schools (Karani 1974, 104). The importance of this school in the Western region cannot be under emphasised in the development of education in that particular front.

The influence of educational activity in the Western region is greatly affected by the proximity of the two post primary institutions in the vicinity i.e. Maseno and Yala. It is not Maseno School that was the darling and light of the CMS that was set up in the region.

The CMS also started some institutions in their centres like those of teacher training centres. Odwako (1975) looks at the institutions in Western Kenya that were established by this group of missionaries in terms of the secondary schools, primary schools and the teacher training institutions that are set up in the region. Teacher education is one of the educational activities that the missionary group engage in the region.

As a result in order to provide for more teachers to engage the African children in the schools out of the mission stations, a method of providing teachers was needed by the missionaries. Students who were performing exceptionally well in the mission schools were selected and enrolled in the teacher training centres so as to teach in the bush schools. The study also looks at the teacher training centres as run by the Church Missionary Society in western Kenya with special reference to Maseno, Butere and N‟giya.

In starting these „teacher training centres‟ the main concern was that the education standards at the bush schools that were very low hence contributing to the even lower academic status in the mission school (Odwako 1975, 224). Maseno School‟s Teacher Training Centre was started by Rev Hirst and by 1922; some 40 trainees were undergoing a one-year course. The first teachers with certificates were: Cannon Ezekiel Apindi, Cannon Jeremiah Awori, Cannon Esau Oywaya and Shadrack Osewe (Richards 1956, 18). This Teacher Training Centre was moved to Butere so that Maseno could concentrate on the secondary school (Odwako 1975, 228).

It is not the CMS missionary group that dominates the educational developments in Western Kenya, but there are other groups that are involved in this enterprise as well. The Friends Africa Interior Mission (FAIM) has its own contribution to make and it has been well documented by Wasike (1996). His study also looks in details on the establishment of the Friend‟s Secondary Schools in the period 1950 – 1963. His study indicate that it is not the missionary who majorly influence the kind of education that they offer but other factors also come into play. His work shows on the influence of the Beecher report and post World War II development and how they influence on this school growth and development.

It also looks at the controversies, which surrounded the school soon after its establishment. An understanding of this group of missionaries is important as they form part of a circuit of American missionaries who had set up workstations in the region.

Lohrentz (1977) studies the policy and strategy of education in Western and Nyanza region of the Kenya as practiced by the missionaries‟ body when dispensing it to the African natives.

This study looks at the involvement of the Mill Hill Mission, Church Missionary Society and Church of God in the education of the African child. Without the overemphasis of the evangelisation of the education front, Lohrentz‟ study contend that the CMS were able to make great advancement in the academic pursuit of their tasks among the African folks way ahead of the other two providers. It is only the involvement of the government that brought an intervention in certain aspects of their education involvement in 1924.

Connolly (1975) has done work on the American missionary protestant groups in Kenya between the years 1923 and 1946. Accordingly, the work analyses the divergence of theological views and how they affect the educational work of the Church of God Mission among others in Kenya. The study contends that much of the education in the Church of God mission was on industrial and vocational teaching to produce African men and women who could improve the conditions in their villages.

University Education

John Prest (1993) looks at the illustrated history through pictures the history of Oxford University. The pictures give illustrations showing the city and the university, its architecture, the university‟s contribution to classical studies and modern studies.

Through the powerful use of pictures Oxford University as an offshoot of the Anglican Church in England can be seen as the largest contributor to religion, science, medicine and the modern physical sciences. The pictures also show the growth and development of this international university.

Nakanyike and Nansozi (2003) have in their book looked at the history of Makerere University during the colonial administration. Their study contend that the British established

Makerere Technical School in 1922 to cater for the welfare of the colonial people through the production of middle cadre civil servants (Nansozi B and Nakanyike K 2003, 7-8).

The school expanded to further award diplomas in 1937. During the formation of the East Africa Community(EAC) in 1963, Makerere became part of the University of East Africa. After the breakup of the EAC, their study focuses on the impact of the political climate during the reign of President Iddi Amin and the military rule in general in the years 1970 to 1990. Their study is mainly focused on key administrative practices from the time of inception of the university and their trends. The study is not entirely historical but gives a good direction on the kind of attention that this study undertook.


Many studies have been done in as far as education in Africa, Kenya and the rest of the world is concerned. However in view of the research objectives not so much has been achieved in the vital details that is required to get a clear picture of the topic under study.

Much has been studied in the case of the CMS missionary group that first set up the institution under focus but little has been done to merge the details so far given with the present status of the university.

Odwako (1975) and Karani (1974) have their studies almost very close to the problem at hand but they both are looking at the topic cited from different perspective. The former is interested in looking at the general contribution of the CMS in educational activities in Western Kenya particularly Maseno, Butere and N‟giya in terms of the TTC while the later is mainly concerned with the secondary view of Maseno School.


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