Showdown looms as teachers warn varsities against revoking degrees

KUPPET secretary general Akello Misori (left) in a jovial mood with the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) counterpart Wilson Sossion (right) after a joint plenary session during the Kenya Secondary Schools Headteachers Association (KESSHA) annual conference at the Mombasa Wildwaters Theme Park, June 18, 2015. More than four thousand secondary school headteachers are attending the annual conference which comes to an end today (Friday) where the Principal of the year will be announced. [GIDEON MAUNDU/STANDARD]'

Teachers fight to retain holiday degree programmes

Teachers’ unions have warned universities against revoking degrees awarded to their membersas recommended in a recent audit.

The report, ordered by Education CS Fred Matiang’i, exposed deep-seated rot in universities that has compromised the quality of education.

The report, released by the Commission for University Education (CUE) last week, revealed how students who do not meet the minimum grade C+ requirement end up in universities based on pre-university courses, bridging courses and P1 certificates.

The document recommended that going forward, ordinary diplomas, bridging courses and foreign qualifications, will no longer guarantee admission into university.

In a move that is likely to affect thousands of teachers, the report also recommended the scrapping of school-based programmes.

"All academic programmes, under school-based plan or any other related programmes are stopped forthwith. Students on school-based mode shall be required to continue training on part-time basis," the audit said.

And yesterday, the Kenya Union of Teachers (Knut) and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) protested against possible revocation of the degrees, saying the consequences would be dire.

Knut secretary general Wilson Sossion and his Kuppet counterpart Akello Misori also faulted the report for stating P1 certificates should not qualify to join university.

They said any teacher who has pursued a two-year professional programme is eligible to join university. Both Knut and Kuppet officials said teachers' degrees must not be touched in the looming purge.

"Teachers have sacrificed their meagre pay to access higher education. We will not watch as their papers are revoked," Misori said.

Sossion said: "Do not attempt to recall teachers' degrees because they were awarded by senates and university councils."

The officials cautioned Dr Matiang'i to ensure teachers are not victimised. "The ministry must stop sensational policies and politicising education. They should only bite what they can chew," said Misori.

The two, who were reacting to the report for the first time, said parallel programmes' teachers are taking are a creation of international obligations that opened education for all.

"Teachers have invested heavily and one cannot wake up to order a study that trashes their efforts. Where were the senates when the said rot was happening?" said Sossion.

Only Kenya National Examination Council (Knec) diplomas will be recognised as qualifications for university admission, according to the report, which has created panic among students in universities.

Students in both public and private universities told The Standard yesterday they were anxious as they await the verdict of the institutions.

CUE has issued a 30-day notice for all universities to come up with a road map on the measures they will take to correct the mess.

"It is so tense. Most students are not aware of what will happen and no one is talking about it. It is a wait-and-see situation," said a student in one of the public universities.

The anxiety is so intense that some universities had to issue statements to reassure students and clarify the programmes they offer.

 "As you are aware, the Ministry of Education is keen on the quality of education offered to Kenyan students in institutions of higher learning. In connection with this, we hereby inform our staff, students and stakeholders that the Bachelor of Education offered by school of continuing and distance education is not school-based but by distance learning and therefore not suspended by Ministry of Education," said a statement from University of Nairobi's College of Education and External Studies, signed by the dean, Dorothy Kyalo, on February 17.

CUE chairman Chacha Nyaigotti-Chacha said the new measures would not apply to degrees already awarded under this mode of study.

Misori and Sossion said cases of absenteeism would also increase if school-based programmes are scraped. They also said thousands of teachers would be locked out of career progression as part–time programmes would be limited to a few.

"The Ministry of Education has failed to plug the career progression gap for teachers. Universities modelled a school-based programme that has enabled many teachers to gain access to higher education," said Misori.

He said teachers will not accept any programme other than school-based. "Teachers are only available when schools are closed. Thus, the programme must only be conducted when schools close," said Misori.

The audit revealed that the quality of school-based programmes was questionable. It indicated the programmes do not accord adequate contact time between the learners and lecturers as required.