SECTIONS

Fury, disappointment as international varsities conference abruptly cancelled

Inside sources revealed to The Standard that a consultative meeting held between Education CS George Magoha and PS Nabukwesi on Tuesday resolved to cancel the meeting. [Boniface Okendo,Standard].

University managers are a disappointed lot following the last-minute cancellation of an international meeting that was scheduled to start today.

The First International Annual Conference was set to run for three days at a Mombasa hotel under the theme ‘Sustainable Universities for National Transformation.”

All public and private universities were required to send senior staff as delegates to the meeting comprising a vice-chancellor, chancellor and principals of constituent colleges.

Ministry of Education senior staff, international speakers and staff from various government ministries had also been invited to the high-level meeting.

Organisers of the conference said the venue of the meeting had been secured and necessary expenditures incurred.

VCs who spoke to The Standard also said they had bought air tickets, reserved hotel rooms and some had even travelled to the coastal city.

"Unavoidable circumstances"

However, a few hours before the start of the meeting, a one-paragraph memo from the ministry cancelled the meeting.

“We regret to inform you that the above-mentioned conference has been deferred due to unavoidable circumstances. New dates for the conference will be communicated in due time,” reads the memo by Simon Nabukwesi, University Education PS.

The PS further said: “We regret any inconvenience caused.” It was not immediately clear why the meeting was called off.

Inside sources however revealed to The Standard that a consultative meeting held between Education CS George Magoha and PS Nabukwesi on Tuesday resolved to cancel the meeting.

Nabukwesi told The Standard in a phone interview that the cancellation was due to ‘unavoidable circumstances beyond us.’

Among the key topics lined up for discussion was a reflection on the Transformation of Education and the Impact of Universities in Kenya.

Under this theme, issues of Governance and the Law, Education Mandate, Human Resource Management and Sustainable Financing of Public Universities were to be discussed.

Key speakers lined up were Prof Chacha Nyagotti, Chairperson, Commission for University Education, Prof Fatuma Chege, Principal Secretary, CBC implementation,  Dr Julius Muia, The National Treasury PS, Prof Mwangi Maringa,
Infrastructure PS and Jerome Ochieng, ICT PS.

Plenary discussions were to be graced by Vice Chancellors’ Committee members Kenyatta University, Egerton, Meru, Moi University, Principal - Bomet University College and Chairperson, Rongo University.

Secretaries of CUE, Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) and Kenya Association of Manufacturers, Federation of Kenya Employers.

VCs who spoke yesterday expressed disappointment in the last-minute cancellation of a meeting that would have laid bare the troubles of higher education in Kenya.

“We are not happy with the development because this was a major meeting that should have interrogated critical sector issues,” said one of the VCs from a top university.

Objectives

Details of the programme outlined six conference objectives.

The meeting was to establish the roles of stakeholders in transformational public University Education and also develop aspirations and shared visions in the areas of governance, legislation and other regulations that can support public university education to ensure efficiency in governance and optimal operations/functions.

The meeting was also to establish strategies to reduce debt and guarantee sustainability, foster benchmarking with the best practices across the globe on human resource and revenue generation that supports academic programmes for improved efficiency.

University managers were also to establish the appropriate structure for student placement and funding in Public Universities.

The conference was also to plan for the strategic response to the continued changes in the education sector, especially in relation to the implications of CBC implementation on the Universities’ curricula.