Power blackouts in universities have been cited as one of the leading causes of strikes and unrest in the institutions of higher learning.
This is contained in a case study of unrest and rampant strikes in the universities, which was presented to vice-chancellors yesterday.
The study by Dr Hukka Wario, the Garissa University College Council chairman, put power blackouts on top of the welfare category listing the reasons students often go on the rampage.
Poor quality of food is also indicated as contributing to unrest in the universities, as well as insufficient or reduced varieties of food.
Among the political causes listed are interference by university administrations in student elections and failure to amicably solve poll disputes. In this category, expulsion of student leaders for leading protests is also given as another contributor.
The report also reveals that lack of teaching equipment like chalk, paper, course outlines and favouritism in teaching and awarding marks is another key contributor to the unrest.
The study was presented to the vice-chancellors and the chairpersons of university councils who held a consultative meeting with Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development in Nairobi.
“Semesters shortened from 16 to 14 weeks to accommodate three semesters in one academic year, necessitated by accelerated intakes, fuelled by ever increasing numbers of government-sponsored students and privately sponsored students is also another reason,” said Dr Wario when he presented the case study.
Other reasons for the strikes are delayed disbursement of the Helb loans, inadequate accommodation, lack of involvement of students in the running of the institutions, increase of fees without students’ knowledge and death of fellow students within the universities.
Dr Wario urged the VCs and the chairpersons of university councils to involve students more in decision-making concerning the running of the institutions.
“It is important to include them in more management bodies not senate alone,” he said.
Addressing the gathering, Prof Kaimenyi challenged the university bosses to make the institutions more competitive and attractive to learners.
He said frequent strikes were a cause for alarm for potential employers.
“Employers tend to shy away from graduates from universities that are known for strikes,” said Prof Kaimenyi, urging them to ensure they minimised the unrest.