Reports have now emerged regarding the quality of education in both public and private universities and adversely mentioned in the report is the University of Nairobi. This is happening as parents and students at the institution are planning to sue the university over missing marks. Also, by late last week, the university had not paid salaries raising queries how financially stable the institution is. Those we talked to say Kenyan banks have refused to give overdrafts due to accounting problems and drop in money generation linked to corruption. Banks are said to advance overdrafts on basis of in flow of money. As things stand, the institution is likely to grind to a halt.
At Kenyatta University, staff members are also crying foul. Those who visited their banks were surprised to find their accounts yawning with no payments. KU is servicing huge debts that were negotiated with mainly Equity Bank to facilitate massive construction projects. The institution has been struggling to service the loans. It is said, fees paid are drained with no surplus. For now, all is not well at the two institutions even as the managements put on brave faces. This is happening as a recent report by Commission of University Education has sent shockwaves in the sector.
The report by the CUE names the University of Nairobi as one of the institutions whose quality of education is wanting.
Whereas most managers of public universities have decided to mull over the report and instead address the challenges, the VC Peter Mbithi has come to defence of the quality of education at the premier university both in the print and electronic media but he has fallen short of giving details of why he thinks the university quality is at all times high.
The question is whether the professor of veterinary medicine is alive as to what is happening at the university.
Challenges that have characterised Mbithi’s administration have not been confined to mismanagement of students’ affairs at the Students Welfare Authority where the accommodation facilities cannot be said to be of a world class university.
Among the many problems facing Mbithi’s administration ranges from the mismanagement of the students’ union affairs and elections to favour administration friendly candidates to the drugs menace at the halls of residence, nepotism, abuse of office, high handedness, corruption, misuse of public funds amongst many others.
Prof Mbithi is now being taken to task to reply with facts the concerns that include an academic conference at the Kenyatta University in July 2016 where the Commission of University Education CEO, David Some made startling revelations regarding the quality of education at the public universities.
The CUE report reveals that the cause of poor education standards at Kenya’s public and private universities is startling and the buck stops at the chancellors, councils and vice chancellors who are vested with managing the public universities.
At the University of Nairobi, the report reveals that the administration admits students purely as an income generating activity. The UoN prides itself with an upward of 80,000.
What is worrying, however, is that even with the high intake questions are being asked on the adequacy of the teaching, research and instructional facilities at the university such as quality, physical status, adequacy of staff offices, lecture theatres, and laboratories, accommodation facilities (with total room occupancy of about 11,000 students), lecturer theaters, academic staff members, laboratory facilities among others.
It is shocking to note that the money generated from the bloated student numbers is shared by the university top administrators who take home upward of Sh1m per month.
A former education secretary was heard lamenting at one time that the salaries of vice chancellors of public universities are higher than a cabinet secretary’s salary.
The CUE reports have caused panic among those who may have graduated from public universities without requisite admission requirements. It is on record that a number of politicians including former and sitting members of parliament and senior parastatal bosses have graduated from university of Nairobi and other universities with bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees.
It is being wondered how the MPs and parastatal CEOs attended classes while at the same time are full time employees and still managed to finish their studies in record time. As an example, Viscount Kimathi a former member of parliament was awarded a first class honours from the University of Nairobi without any record of him having attended a form four class and attaining a form four certificate. He is currently pursuing his PhD at the Egerton University.
It is widely believed that at the University of Nairobi, politicians pay their classmates and supervisors to do assignments for them. It is also important to note that many business people have opened shop next to the UoN to do assignments and research papers for those unqualified students. Other students are offered marks in return for sexual favours and hence the famous sex for marks/grades saying at the UoN.
As Prof Mbithi engages the media in an exercise in futility about the world classiness of the university he heads, he has given figures of the number of faculty members possessing PHD in the School of Business to enable the school graduate the kind of numbers that graduate with Masters in Business administration in one sitting.
It is also shocking to note that in past graduations at UoN, more than 1,200 students graduate with masters in business administration degrees which is more than those graduating with bachelor degrees.
In the last 10 years, there are an upwards of 15,000 graduates in masters of business administration produced by the University of Nairobi. The question that begs the mind is how many faculty members are available to supervise those many students.
Hard questions on the adequacy of the teaching, research and instructional facilities at the university for example the quality, physical status, adequacy of staff offices, lecture theatres, and laboratories need to be asked.
It is also imperative to note that programs at UoN like Medicine, Law, Engineering, Architecture, etc, are regulated by the various professional bodies. These bodies have defined the staff student ratios for these programmes. Prof Mbithi should provide those ratios to back up his claims of quality assurance.
Prof Mbithi wants the Kenyans to forget that at one point the Council for Legal Education had suspended the Kisumu and Mombasa campuses law programs. How would one sit on his laurels and claim university a world class when many students miss classes, where lecturers never show up, some loss scripts and nothing happens to them and many students move from first year and final year and held up for graduation because of missing marks.
Sources divulged that a number of parents are contemplating taking UoN to court over missing marks. That Prof Mbithi is a man of nine lives is not a secret. This time round he has pulled a fast one. He has unstrapped his guns and has come out shooting with two guns from the hip a scene reminiscent of those seen in Wild West movies.
In the last few weeks Mbithi has come public again in both print and electronic media to deny that university is not insolvent.
The Auditor-General through a special audit of the period 2014 to November 30 2015 has revealed that the university is broke. But Prof Mbithi has forcefully come out denying that the university is broke. However, dons are asking if the university is not broke why they have not been paid even after they went back to work and left only the lecturers’ on strike.
As if to confirm report by the Auditor General’s findings of insolvency, the professors have not been paid February salaries and staff do not know when they will be paid. The mood is foul at the UoN and tempers are at boiling points.
What the dons are wondering and that this is the first time since the institution was started way back in 1956 that salaries have been delayed. The dons are of the view that the University of Nairobi’s cash insolvency has been precipitated by the wanton spending spree by the top management without regard to the Public Finance Management Act 2012, personal indiscipline in squandering public funds.
The mismanagement at the University of Nairobi encompass abuse of office through non adherence to procedures and policies in hiring, promotion and demotion of staff, transfer of staff, award of post retirement contract to some of Mbithi’s favourite cronies and irregular procurement of tenders for insurance and security, abuse of office in promotion of his family members and his tribesmen and women, intimidation of his top management other staff, lavish spending on parties and allowances when the institution is on its knees and all other types of misdeeds overtly and covertly.
We had in the past reported how Prof. Peter Mbithi authorized the payment of an upward of Sh300m to compromise DVCs, Principals and Deputy Principals of Colleges, Deans, Directors, senior administrators and Chairmen of Departments by way of paying them some enhanced responsibility, transport and entertainment allowances which were backdated to July 1 2015.
These payments were secretly deposited in the people’s accounts on December 23 2016. When they inquired to know the source of the money, they were told to withdraw and use it because it belongs to them without more explanation.
Mbithi was paid an upward of Sh3 million, the DVCs were paid Sh1.5million, administrators such as Fr. Wamugunda and the finance Officer Busienei were paid Sh1m each. The least paid were the chairmen of departments with an amount of Sh500,000.
Dons we talked to are now saying that the deficit of salaries is only Sh250 million and therefore the source that could produce Sh300 million to compromise the administrators can be used to pay the salaries. Though these enhanced payments were essentially done to compromise the principals, deans and directors the strategy has not worked since majority of them are supporting the strike silently.
The dons we talked to are annoyed that the council headed by Farah whose term has ended and Mbithi wanted it extended through court orders and the chancellor Vijoo Ratanssi have refereed Mbithi as the university headed to oblivion.
It is also sad to note that more than Sh12 million was squandered on parties and entertainment. Soon after Mbithi created advancement office and moved its offices from UoN premises to ostensibly meant to renovate the office space at her family’s Rattansi Education Trust Building the chancellor’s family outfit on Koinange Street purported to have been donated by her family’s Rattansi Education Trust to house the newly created University Advancement Office.
It was not clear how the university acquired a private space outside the university. Considering that Rattansi is the chancellor of the university of Nairobi and a member of the Rattansi Education Trust acquiring the facility and accepting to renovate it amounted to conflict of interest on the part of the chancellor and the university.
It is also said that Mbithi’s wife is at the helm of the examination centre while Mueni, Mbithi’s new crony is in the department of Construction and Maintenance. It is worth noting that Mueni was elevated recently to be the one in charge of the University Towers a role that should be carried out by the Construction and Maintenance department together with other university buildings.