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Tribal imbalances rife in university staffing

06 March 2015, 11:46 Samuel Kisika

Nairobi – The Commission for University Education (CUE) has admitted that tribal imbalance in hiring both the teaching and non-teaching staff remains a major challenge in most universities.

CUE Chief Executive Officer, David Some who was citing from the 2012 National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) audit report on ethnic representation in public universities, said university staffing in the country’s 31 public institutions of higher learning doesn’t meet the constitutional provision of regional balance.

NCIC 2012 audit report researched in the then seven public universities and 16 colleges listed the country’s five big tribes including Kikuyu, Luhya, Luo, Kalenjin and Kamba constituting 93% of workforce in the institutions.

Responding to witnessed protests by university students demanding the transfer or sacking of Vice Chancellors for propagating nepotism in hiring university employees, Some said appointments and promotions of staff is the University Council’s responsibility and not the VC's.

“The Universities Act 2012 provides seven legal organs in university management including the sponsor (government), Board of Trustees, the Chancellor, the Council, the Senate, Board of Management and the Student Management. Each organ has its own roles and each has oversight over each other,” said Some.

“The University Council is responsible for hiring staff among other roles. Nepotism allegations raised by the University of Eldoret students against the Vice Chancellor are not true because the Council is responsible for the appointments staff. We also go to ascertain how the appointments of staff were done whenever there is any complaint,” he added.

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To ensure universities adhere to CUE’s harmonized education standards, Some reiterated that the Commission conducts a five-year minimum periodical standards audit in addition to ensuring new universities meet the minimum establishment requirements such as having 50-acrage piece of land.

“When we visited the University of Eldoret to conduct out standards audit, we did not find the Senate’s minutes and concluded that the organ doesn’t hold meetings to oversee the institution’s level of education which is an indicator of incompetency and failure by the organization,” revealed Some.

CUE’s Chairman, Henry Thairu who accompanied his CEO when they appeared before the National Assembly Education committee chaired by Tinderet MP, Julius Melly said the Commission has initiated a nationwide oversight programme to ascertain standards and quality of education in all universities to ensure they meet they laid down minimum facility requirement.  

Although CUE refuted claims of VCs having a hand in hiring of university workers, Melly insisted that the VCs to some extend engineer the appointments and promotions of particular members of staff.

“This Commission should take action against culpable officers in our universities who unlawfully run the institutions against the enacted Universities Act 2012. We don’t want to further hear cases of negative ethnicity and corruption in universities,” said Melly.

He also asked the commission to ensure universities account for all revenue collected in addition to funds obtained from the government for management purposes.     

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