No salaries yet for varsity staff as dons call for more funds

Kisii University Vice-Chancellor Prof John Akama. [David Njaaga, Standard]

Public universities are yet to pay their staff August salaries after it emerged that the institutions are yet to receive their monthly capitation from the government.

Correspondence seen by The Saturday Standard in select public universities reveals that management of the institutions are unable to settle August salaries.

"As you are aware, the university relies majorly on capitation from the exchequer to pay salaries for all university staff. The purpose of this communication is to inform all members of staff that the university is yet to receive capitation from the government," reads a memo to Moi university staff.

The memo signed by Prof Ambrose Kiprop, acting deputy vice chancellor administration, planning and strategy further reads:

"The management, therefore, requests all members of staff to be patient and continue executing their duties until when capitation is channelled for payment of August 2022 salaries."

A similar memo at Kisii University reads: "The purpose of this letter is to inform you that we are yet to receive August 2022 capitation to enable us pay salaries. We, therefore, request all members of staff to be patient. The university management will immediately release the salaries upon receipt of capitation."

The memo is signed by Prof John Akama, the vice chancellor of Kisii university. Both memos are dated September 7, 2022. Vice-chancellors of other public universities who were interviewed revealed the situation is the same across board.

And now, university dons have urged President-elect William Ruto to urgently address the financial crunch bedeviling institutions of higher learning.

Dr Grace Kibue from Egerton University said it is the government's obligation to ensure capitations to universities and students are released in good time to save learners and institutions from grounding.

She further noted that Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA) have been implemented outside the circles for several years, forcing many dons to live below poverty line.

"The 2017-2022 (CBA) has not been implemented. All CBAs have been a thorn in the flesh for many years which has been leading to strikes of lecturers. We want structured negotiations which should be done two years prior to signing the deal," Dr Kibue said.

Speaking on Friday in Nairobi, the lecturers drawn from public and private universities appealed to the incoming government to ensure the education sector is given due respect.

Kipkoros Kandie from University of Nairobi said lecturers signed a charter that is set to turn around education in the country.

"The dons are expectant that the charter shall reinvigorate and restore the dignity of the academic stalwarts who have suffered affliction and disdain from the unhonoured collective bargaining agreements and low capitation that has seen many universities struggle in payment of staff," said Kandie.

Kandie further said university education has been ridiculed by past regimes, with staff being humiliated for safeguarding the institutions.

"The desire to positively disrupt the status quo to free Kenyans from all bondage including state capture is commendable and heralds a new beginning for a new Kenya where opportunities and everyone matters," said Kandie.

The lecturers also appealed to the new government to factor an increase of capitations to the institutions of higher learning.

"Central to the plans is doubling the funding to the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) from Sh11 billion to Sh22 billion, and the enhancement of research which will undoubtedly be the game changer," he added.

Wanjiru Nderitu, a lecturer at the Africa Nazarene University said many institutions face challenges in accessing research funds.

"Research funding of two per cent can be implemented to help solve the challenges in our studies," she said.

The dons said they were optimistic the President will leverage his expertise and experience in public service to ensure the education sector is brought back to its footing.

Joseph Mberia, former national vice chairman of the Universities Academic Staff Union, said hiring of university heads should be based on merit rather than tribes, and blamed the challenges facing Egerton on underfunding.

"The problem facing Egerton is based on underfunding. Public institutions should not be left to die at the expense of private ones. More money needs to be injected into Egerton so that we don't see it fold up," he added.