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Kenya universities hostels turned into dens of crime and drugs

By Augustine Oduor | May 9th 2018
Commission for University Education (CUE)

delivers damning verdict on state of the country’s institutions of higher learning. [Photo: Courtesy]

University hostels have become dens of criminal gangs, prostitution, and drug abuse, a report by a State agency has said.

The Commission for University Education (CUE) report blames poor collaboration between universities/constituent colleges and the National Security Council for rising crime in the institutions of higher learning.

“Universities (are) becoming hideouts and convergence points for criminals, especially in hostels,” says part of the report presented to Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed last week.

Cover up

The report indicted students of colluding to cover up criminal activities, concealing the rot that now threatens the lives of many learners.

The report also revealed shocking details about active radicalisation cells in universities.

It also emerged that politicians tap the mess of students’ ethnic alliances in hostels to build political bases that further threaten the safety and security of learners.

The commission’s chairman, Prof Chacha Nyaigotti Chacha, and the commission secretary, Prof Mwenda Ntarangwi, presented the report to the CS.

Overall, the report attributes the security lapses to laxity, saying little attention has been given to security concerns in universities and constituent colleges.

The revelations come as universities grapple with the implementation of the Universities Standards and Guidelines on Security and Safety report.

A Universities Security Committee (USC) comprising 11 vice chancellors and representatives from the Ministry of Interior and the National Intelligence Service were mandated to draft the national minimum standards and guidelines on safety and security in universities.

In April 2016, the Government, through the Ministry of Education, directed that all universities and constituent colleges implement biometric identification systems and automate students’ records.

Then Education CS Fred Matiang’i directed CUE to supervise the implementation of the directives.

The status report on the implementation of the biometric identification system and automation of students’ records obtained from 56 universities and university colleges indicated that majority of them had initiated the process.

Budgetary constraints

“However, majority of public universities and public constituent colleges indicated that the implementation process was hampered by budgetary constraints,” reads the report.

The report states that the solution to the security challenges in universities lie in the implementation of the students biometric data, capture as was recommended in the safety standards and guidelines.

The guidelines required all universities and colleges to check the security and safety of all students living in hostels.

This entailed improving surveillance, screening of staff and students, installation of security cameras, dealing with false alarms, and reducing the number of places where dangerous devices could be left or dropped.

All public and communal areas such as exits, entrances, reception areas, stairs, halls, lavatories, and washrooms were to be kept clean and tidy.

In addition to these, CCTV cameras and security alarms were to be fixed and a single door policy for entrance adopted, with the rest of the doors only usable for exit and during emergencies.

Students and staff were required to wear badges and security officers and guards empowered to demand production of identification from anyone within the institutions.

In its report to the Cabinet secretary, CUE says the ministry must liaise with the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government to agree on how universities would work with the security organs.

On radicalisation, CUE proposes that the Education ministry work with relevant Government agencies to develop a counter-radicalisation policy for universities.

The commission promised to work with universities to develop an updated centralised student discipline profile database.

“This will act as a ‘disciplinary reference bureau’ for universities,” states the report.

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