University students demand CS rescinds defunding proposal

Melvin Thogo, President of the University of Nairobi Students Council, addresses the press on November 7, 2022. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Students from public universities have threatened to go on strike if government does not drop a proposal to stop funding their institutions.

And they have given Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu, a 48-hour ultimatum to withdraw the proposal, which they termed as unrealistic “at a time when Kenyans are facing economic challenges.”

‘‘We ask you to withdraw, retract what you said within 48 hours. We have been very silent and you have taken advantage of that,’’ said Melvin Thogo, President of University of Nairobi Students Council.

While on a tour of Dedan Kimathi University of Technology, CS Machogu asked the universities to look for alternative funding.

This, the CS noted, would be achieved through investing more in research and innovation as an additional revenue stream to finance their respective programmes.

The students have differed with Machogu and instead, want the government to increase capitation.

‘‘The same government that intends to allocate slightly Sh1.4 billion to political parties in the coming financial year, the same government where the Public Service CS Isha Jumwa hinted at increasing salaries for public servants should deal with our concerns. The remarks by Machogu are unsettling,’’ Thogo said.

Thogo further pointed out that the Kenya Kwanza government promised to bridge funding gaps and non- tuition needs of students should be accomplished.

Teddy Odhiambo, President of Kenyatta University Students Council noted that already universities are reeling under heavy burden following underfunding to the higher learning institutions.

 Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu.  [Samson Wire, Standard]

‘‘Majority of our universities are limping financially following government underfunding. Many of them don’t even qualify to be universities,’’ Odhiambo said.

Odhiambo further said part of CS’s statement will be a big blow to the “hustler” students studying in the public universities and colleges.

‘‘The implication is that the universities will have a free will to charge tuition fees at market rate which will affect the students,’’ he added.

Mark Nyakwach, student leader from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKIA), said majority of students cannot afford the Sh16, 000 tuition fees.

‘‘We cannot even afford a meal since the little we have is taken to the payment of tuition. Most of our students have to do manual jobs to survive in the university,’’ said Nyakwach.

 Earlier, University Academic Staff Union threatened to petition the President to recall Machogu over what they termed ‘inability to perform’.

Led by National Secretary General Constantine Wasonga, the University Academic Staff Union say, they expected Machogu to fix the ills in the education sector but he is acting in the contrary. 

‘‘He promised to deal with cartels in the education sector which he has succumbed to and now influence his decision making,’’ Wasonga said.

He said the CS should have consulted before making his statement, noting that unless the financial situation in higher learning institutions is addressed, there is imminent collapse of higher education.

Premium State's fuel import deal rattles industry, but no cheap fuel yet
By Brian Ngugi 31 mins ago
Premium After Goldenberg, Pattni now linked to Zimbabwe gold smuggling syndicate
Premium Why electricity keeps getting more expensive
By Brian Ngugi 36 mins ago
Premium Treasury to unveil luxury gym and spa amid austerity push
The Standard
Celebrate Easter in style with our KES999 annual offer