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Shame of Kenyan public universities promoting tribalism in hiring

By STEVE MKAWALE and PATRICK KIBET | September 27th 2016
Uasin Gishu residents demonstrate in Eldoret town yesterday, in solidarity with politicians who stormed Moi University to oppose the appointment of Laban Ayiro as acting Vice Chancellor. [PHOTO: KEVIN TUNOI/STANDARD]

Public universities and State-sponsored colleges have continued to violate laws on equal employment opportunities despite the National Government's efforts to end negative ethnicity.

According to the latest study on ethnic diversity and representation in 31 State-funded institutions of higher learning, only five have complied with the law on equal ethnic representation in the employment of staff.

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) report, which is yet to be made public, but which the Standard has a copy of, comes days after elected leaders in Rift Valley stormed Moi University in Eldoret and attempted to block Laban Ayiro's appointment as acting Vice Chancellor.

The Ethnic and Diversity Audit of Public Universities and Constituent Colleges report is the second ethnic audit of public universities and constituent colleges. It reveals that four ethnic groups have been completely locked out of employment in all the 31 institutions of higher learning.

University of Nairobi, Multimedia University, Technical University College of Kenya, Nakuru-based Egerton University and Cooperative University College are the only institutions that have complied with the National Cohesion and Integration Act.

The law, that came into force in 2008, requires that no public institutions shall employ more than one third of its staff from one ethnic group.

It complements other diversity legislation provided in Article 10, 27 and 232 of the Constitution and other public service policies.

According to the latest study, Kirinyaga University College ranks the worst in ethnic balance, with 82.7 per cent of staff coming from the Kikuyu community.

Another institution is the Kibabii University where 79 per cent of staff are from the Luhya community.

At Murang'a University College 76.1 per cent of the staff hail from the Kikuyu tribe while at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology, 75.1 per cent of employees come from the Luo community.

The Report shows a strong correlation between the ethnic group of the vice chancellor or principal, and the majority ethnic group among senior staff.

Top public universities - Kenyatta University, Maseno University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and University of Eldoret, Moi University - are among the universities which have failed to meet minimum requirements in ethnic diversity.

Moi University, which has been on the limelight over the recruitment of vice Chancellor, has 60.6 per cent of its 3,198 members of staff from the Kalenjin community.

The report comes at a time when the Ministry of Education plans to introduce stringent measures in the process of hiring top university officials to end manipulation that could favour certain candidates.

The study further indicates that the largest ethnic group recruited in the combined employment of all universities and constituent colleges is the Kikuyu, which forms 23.6 per cent.

Turkana, Maasai, Kenyan-Somalis, Kamba and Mijikenda are among communities that are under-represented in university employment.

But NCIC notes in the report that over the past four years, a significant improvement in compliance levels has been attained.

"The findings of this study demonstrate great efforts by universities towards compliance with the legal obligations, particularly those relating to the NCI Act Section 7(2)," says NCIC chairman Francis ole Kaparo in the report.

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