The Education ministry has reconstituted its representatives in councils of public universities and colleges in the greatest hint yet of an impending shake-up in governance of higher learning institutions. Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed told a parliamentary committee two weeks ago that ‘there are many things wrong” in the universities and promised a raft of changes in their leadership.
In the changes released yesterday, all the four Principal Secretaries in the ministry will serve as members of various councils at the 34 public universities and colleges.
Also to act as the PSs representatives in the councils are county commissioners, regional coordinators of education and directors at the ministry. Others are legal experts and senior officials of the ministry. This is a major departure from the past where representatives of the PS were all from the directorate of university education.
Under the new arrangements, State Department of University Education and Research’s Prof Japhet Ntiba will sit on the council of Moi University.The university is smarting from a leadership crisis which saw Prof Laban Ayiro serve as VC in an acting capacity for more than a year. Amina appointed Prof Isaac Kosgei as the VC in March following repeat interviews marred with claims of ethnicity. Early Learning and Basic Education PS Belio Kipsang will represent the ministry at the council of Egerton University in Njoro. Though Dr Kipsang’s docket is at the basic level, he will now be expected to represent the ministry at the council. Amina said the new move will ensure synergy in the ministry as all departments feed into each other. “We are all running the same sector where all levels of education are correlated,” she said.
“By appointing officials from other state departments, I am trying to ensure they are all aware of our ultimate goals in education.” In the appointments, Technical and Vocational PS Kevit Desai will sit on the council of University of Nairobi. Desai becomes the only official member of the university’s council after the court quashed the appointments made under former Education CS Fred Matiang’i. The University of Nairobi has been operating without a council for more than a year now, a factor that has affected the running of the institution. VC Peter Mbithi recently expressed concerns over the long absence of the council. High Court Judge George Odunga on February 13 ruled that recruitment of university council members and chairpersons must be open, transparent and competitive. However, the process of appointing members to the council is currently underway after the ministry invited suitable applicants for the positions in public universities. Invitations for applications expired last week, paving the way for a competitive recruitment of members.
Post Training and Development PS Zeinab Hussein will represent the ministry at Kenyatta University. Other top officials who will sit in university councils include director general Alyas Abdi (Chuka), Eastern Regional Coordinator of Education Margaret Lesuuda (Meru and Embu), University Education and Research Secretary Peter Okwanyo (Jomo Kenyatta) while his Basic Education counterpart Andrew Lukaria will sit at Maseno. University Education director James Kiburi will sit at the council of Nyeri-based Dedan Kimathi whose chairperson is scientist Jane Nyakan’go. The changes come as the universities seek to amend the Universities Act to ensure open the window for chairpersons of the councils to hold at least a masters degree. Currently, chairpersons must have at least a doctorate degree.