University lecturers have cited tribalism and political interference as the greatest threats facing the running of public universities in Kenya.
The lecturers, speaking during the Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu) national delegates committee meeting, blamed the two vices for the rot in the institutions of higher learning
During the meeting held in Nakuru on Friday, Uasu chairman Muga K’Olale said the vices have infiltrated the process of job appointments and staff promotions thus affecting the quality and standards of university education.
In his speech Mr K’Olale mentioned the ethnicity factor which featured prominently during the interviews for the appointment of Moi University vice chancellor as a case in point on the rot that has eaten up public universities.
“Because of ethnicity and political factors, the country has seen 60 percent of university managers hail from the community within which the university is located,” said Mr K’Olale.
To emphasise the extent to which ethnicity has affected the appointments, Mr K’Olale noted that there are some universities in the country which have failed to promote or review their staff for more than eight years because most qualified candidates do not hail from their backyard.
He also said the problem has also affected the running of the union’s affairs because the tribal appointments lead to the creation of a political barrier in the institutions.
“It is becoming extremely difficult to manage the affairs of the unions especially from Mount Kenya, western and Rift Valley regions because of the political barrier that has been created by the university managers,” he added
The Uasu officials also condemned Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i’s directive to have staff in some posts employed on contractual basis, which they said is misguided.
Uasu Constantine Wasonga dismissed Dr Matiang’i’s directive terming it a dream.
“That will not happen; as far as the union is concerned staff from the post of assistant lecturers shall be employed on permanent and pensionable terms,” Mr Wasonga said.
The union further challenged the government’s move to undertake reforms in education without involving stakeholders.
According to Mr K’Olale, the move is a political project by the Jubilee administration to water down the contribution of stakeholders in the country’s education.
The union has at the same time urged university councils to negotiate and conclude their respective internal CBAs in two months’ time as agreed in the last return-to-work agreement with the union’s chapters, failure to which they have said they will go on strike.
“We agreed with the Inter-Public Universities Council Consultative Forum (IPUCCF) that negotiation of universities’ internal CBAs be concluded latest by February 28 next year. Let the universities cooperate and do so within that time or else we will strike,” Mr Wasonga said.
The Union plans to start the 2017-2021 collective bargaining agreement negotiations from next week.