Masinde Muliro University closed indefinitely following students unrest

A student at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology is being escorted after arrest by officers after he was arrested while pelting stones at the school ambulance. [Duncan Ocholla, Standard]

Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (Mmust) has been closed indefinitely following students' unrest.

The students on Wednesday went on a rampage protesting the management's demand that all students must have zero balance before registering for courses and sitting for exams.

The students also claimed the university has not addressed the frequent deaths of students. At least eight students have lost their lives mysteriously since January this year.

The rowdy students stoned vehicles in the car parking yard within the university premises, shattering all windows of the university ambulance.

They also pushed a seven-seater matatu and used it to block the entrance to the Vice Chancellor’s office.

“The university special Senate meeting held today has resolved to close the university with immediate effect because of student’s unrest. All students are instructed to vacate the university premises by 2.pm,” read an internal memo signed by the Acting Registrar for Academic Affairs Thomas Sakwa.

During the protest, at least 15 students were seriously injured and more than 50 were arrested. Majority of those arrested are first years who reported to the institution two weeks ago.

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Brutality

Among the 15 injured students is a second-year female student who is fighting for her life at a local hospital, after she was mercilessly clobbered by three police officers.

The student slipped and fell behind the institution’s library when scampering for safety. The officers kicked her in the stomach six times while one of them stepped on her chest and slapped her severally.

The officers threw her on the ground several times and beat her with sticks. The student became unconscious and was rushed to the hospital while bleeding profusely on the forehead. Her hand also had severe injuries.

The police who were using tear gas canisters managed to disperse the students from the university and even followed them at Lurambi area where majority of them live, they shot live bullets aiming at the students but none of them sustained a bullet injury since they ran for their safety.

According to the students’ leader Vincent Lumala, the institution had also locked out students from sitting for their special and supplementary examinations despite having paid for the exams.

 Lumala said the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system had been misconfigured leading to the loss of students’ marks and fee balances.

“The ERP system is where student’s results are uploaded every academic year and also when you pay tuition fees, it is reflected automatically in the system. We can’t access our fee balances and results on the portal since it has been pulled down,” said Lumala.

He added: "There are students who are in the third year of study and have sat for their exams recently. They cannot access their marks on the portal and after raising there complaints to the Registrar of Academics Affairs (Prof Sakwa), he dismissed them.”

He said the majority of the students at the university are poor and depend on well-wishers who pay for their tuition fees, adding that sponsors cannot support such a student unless he or she produces their progress report every academic year.

Lumala also said the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) had not remitted the money to the student’s accounts, saying they met the university management and explained their position but what they agreed on was not implemented.

The students also blamed the Education Cabinet Secretary, Prof George Magoha, for failing to install substantive officeholders at the university, arguing that it has been a tall order for the university management to make crucial decisions touching on student’s welfare since they are all on acting capacity.

Kakamega Central Sub County Commander, David Kabena said that only five students have been arrested and not fifty and dismissed claims that students had been injured. Kabena said the students had no permit to hold demonstrations.

So far the university does not have a substantive vice chancellor for the last 10 months. Prof Asenath Sigot is the acting VC. She took over from Prof Joseph Bosire who has held the position from December 1, 2018, after the tenure of the then Vice Chancellor Prof Fredrick Otieno expired.

Prof Charles Mutai is the Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor (DVC) for Planning, Research and Innovation. He took over from Prof Egara Kabaji whose five-year tenure ended in January.

Prof Josephine Ngaira, former DVC for Academics and Students Affairs tenure expired in October last year and Dr En. Benedict Sabuni took over in acting capacity.

The current Acting DVC Finance and Administration is Dr Patrick Ojera. The position fell vacant after Prof Joseph Rotich who held the office was appointed VC for Laikipia University.

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Students unrestCS MagohaAsenath SigotMasinde Muliro University