LECTURERS LOCKED OUT

Shake-up imminent in varsities as 437 apply for top management jobs

Chairperson applicants required to hold minimum of earned PhD

In Summary

 

  • The applicants will be examined on their experience in leadership and management besides the requirement of minimum qualifications for the posts.
  • University councils have a say in hiring staff, approving statutes, policies and budgets, and appointing vice-chancellors and deputy VCs.
Education CS George Magoha
CAUTION: Education CS George Magoha
Image: JACK OWUOR

A major shake-up looms in public universities as the Education ministry is all set to reconstitute their councils.

The ministry will soon vet 437 academics who applied for the chairpersons and members of councils of the 22 public universities and nine constituent colleges.

The positions were advertised on February 25.

 
 

Successful candidates will serve in any of the universities across the country depending on the diversity of skills, regional, and gender balance.

In what will lock out lecturers from their respective university councils, active faculty members were barred as well as public servants.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said the shortlisted candidates will be contacted for interviews at an appropriate date.

“This will be done in compliance with the Head of Public Service directive on meetings and public gatherings,” Magoha said in a notice published yesterday.

Chairperson applicants were required to hold a minimum of an earned PhD degree from a recognised university.

Candidates will also be vetted for compliance with Chapter Six of the Constitution on Leadership and Integrity.

They will be examined on their experience in leadership and management besides the requirement that they meet minimum qualifications for the posts.

 
 

A university council is tasked with hiring staff, approving statutes, policies and budgets, and appointing vice-chancellors and deputy VCs.

In April last year, the CS named three chairpersons of the university councils and tens of members.

Former Education CS Amina Mohammed set the wheels of change rolling with her proposal to shake up the echelons of the institutions of higher learning.

She proposed that the four Principal Secretaries in the ministry serve as members of various councils.

Amina’s proposal was to open doors for county commissioners, regional coordinators of education and directors at the ministry to input in the management of universities.

Magoha was appointed in March last year and embarked on the herculean task of ending the chaos that characterised the management of universities.

The institutions face labour disputes in the form of strikes by lecturers and support staff.

There are also concerns that research is increasingly becoming non-existent in universities.

Magoha has an uphill task implementing changes to the councils in the face of the legal challenge by Kenya Universities Staff Union (Kusu).

The union successfully petitioned such changes at Masinde Muliro University and the court revoked the swapping of the council chair with Pwani University’s.

Judge John Mativo agreed with Kusu’s position that the law does not allow revocation through a ministerial order or gazette notice.  

The University Academic Staff Union (Uasu) backed the argument, saying the ministry must follow the law, or face numerous litigations.

Uasu secretary-general Constantine Wasonga said they think the ministry is simply creating a databank from which it will be filling vacant posts.

"How can you remove members whose terms have not expired. Council members appointments are always gazetted for three years and are not transferable."

"If you change a council member's terms midway you risk opening a floodgate of litigations. The ministry should shed more light on this issue," Wasonga said.

Even so, education experts believe that the challenges facing universities rest not in their respective councils but with government agencies.

University don Lukoye Atwoli once observed that the crisis in universities stems from pedestrian decision-making and leadership.

He said this was not only in the universities themselves but also in the sector regulator – the Commission for University Education.

In an opinion published in a local daily, the don said that as is the custom with incompetent commissions, CUE has evaded its original mandate.

“It has instead mutated into some kind of ‘super senate’,” Prof Atwoli said.