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History of OUK

History of the Open University

Since gaining independence in 1963, Kenya has recognized the need for reforms in education to address issues such as access, equity, quality, and relevance. These reforms have included increasing the number of schools, colleges, and universities through public and private participation, implementing quota systems and gender considerations in admissions, providing teacher training and retraining, improving infrastructure to support teaching and learning, and reforming the curriculum. 



Public participation, through the establishment of Education Commissions and Task Forces, has played a role in identifying the challenges facing the education sector. However, the mainstreaming of distance learning, as a means to increase access to higher education, has been underdeveloped and underfunded in Kenya, despite the establishment of the African Virtual University in 1997.The need for increased access to higher education has been recognized for decades in Kenya, with the government investing significantly in higher education for training and research. The establishment of an open university has been proposed as a means to break conventional barriers and provide opportunities for more Kenyans to access university education. This would enable those who missed earlier opportunities or face barriers such as formal grades, age, capacity to pay, gender, or geographical location to access education and training for employment and nation-building. The flexibility of distance learning, which allow students to learn at their own time and place, is seen as attractive and convenient, especially for those who are occupied in regular or vulnerable work. The establishment of a Kenyan Open University has been considered in various policy documents and reports, with a focus on providing opportunities for those who qualify through the formal system but are unable to secure places in traditional universities.

On a significant note, the vision for an Open University in Kenya came to fruition on August 3, 2023, when the institution was awarded a Charter by the Honorable President of Kenya, Dr. William Samoei Ruto. The charter ceremony took place at Konza Metropolis, located in Machakos County. This event marked a crucial milestone in the educational landscape of Kenya and affirmed the commitment of the government to expand higher education opportunities beyond the conventional brick- and-mortar universities.

The Open University of Kenya aims to address the pressing issue of limited capacity in traditional universities by employing innovative teaching and learning methodologies, including online and distance education. By leveraging technology and flexible learning modes, the university seeks to accommodate a larger number of qualified students, enabling them to pursue higher education without the constraints of physical presence and limited campus capacities.

This initiative aligns with global trends in higher education that recognize the transformative potential of open and distance learning. It allows individuals from diverse backgrounds and geographic locations to access education and skills development, contributing to social and economic development on both local and national scales.

The establishment of the Open University of Kenya reflects the government's commitment to fostering a knowledge-based society, where education is a tool for personal advancement and national progress. As the university sets out to provide accessible, flexible, and quality education, it is anticipated to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of higher education in Kenya and beyond.


The innovative university for inclusive prosperity.


To provide affordable, flexible, quality learning experiences which enable individual acquisition of knowledge, skills and values in learners chosen fields of study; nurturing them into innovative researchers, leaders, entrepreneurs and global citizens.


We subscribe to the philosophy that quality education makes human beings equal. We are committed to making it accessible to all who need it regardless of where they are. The Open University of Kenya breaks down boundaries and barriers to learning in all their forms. We use technology to mitigate the effects of geographical, economic and social barriers.

Core Values

  • Excellence
  • Inclusivity
  • Innovation
  • Integrity



The Open University of Kenya (OUK) is a virtual learning institution deeply committed to advancing education and driving socio-economic growth within Kenya and beyond. Access to higher education has remained a major challenge in Kenya and this has disadvantaged citizens who seek to improve their knowledge, upscale skills and for posterity. Experts have noted that increasing the number of educational institutions so as to match the rate of population growth is an extremely difficult if not impossible solution especially when financial and other resource constraints are considered. Open and Distance Learning approaches, coupled with innovative ICT solutions, have proofed viable alternatives to providing excellent education to millions of people located wherever and whenever by different life circumstances.