Lecturers Criticize Machogu’s Statements of freezing University Funds
Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu has been criticized for what has been considered a casual yet far-reaching proclamation over the future of state support for public universities.
University academics have urged Machogu against making ‘unilateral and roadside’ policy statements without consulting with stakeholders.
On Sunday, Universities Academic Staff Union Organizing Secretary Onesmus Mutio urged the CS to consult widely before announcing major policy changes.
“So who has he consulted? Has he had time to engage the stakeholders and get proposals on how best to address the challenges?” he said.
Machogu had on Saturday placed public colleges on notice stating they should think of how to create their own cash as the State will soon stop financing them.
“I’m going to move around each and every university in Kenya because a number is faced with financial problems and we are encouraging that they must generate their own income because the exchequer as it is now is not going to continue funding more,” Machogu said.
At the Dedan Kimathi University of Science and Technology in Nyeri County, CS Machogu said that the institutions’ current financial crisis requires them to find other ways to make money so that the government doesn’t have to work so hard.
Since the state is on the verge of withdrawing its financial support, he advised public institutions of higher education to embrace research, innovation, and technology to produce their own revenue.
Mutio said that most colleges are in terrible financial shape and could hardly stay open without help from the government.
“How do you stop funding public universities? Are you planning to turn them into private entities? What will happen to students from humble backgrounds,” Mutio paused.
Mutio further criticized Machogu’s views by stating that most public universities pay their employees only 57% of their salary.
“We hoped that this government would look at the deep financial challenges facing the public universities but it is very regrettable that the CS can start issuing such statements even before he settles down in office,” Mutio said.
The union secretary defended institutions further by stating that they have been unable to remit deductions to several entities.
According to the University Fund, the indebtedness of public institutions is Sh56bn.
Contractors owe public universities Sh1.4 billion, part-time professors Sh4.5 billion, suppliers Sh4.8 billion, and Sacco contributions Sh4.1 billion.
NSSF is owed Sh139 million, NHIF is owed Sh2 million, loan deductions are owed Sh1.3 billion, pension plans are owed Sh18 billion, PAYE is owed Sh13 billion, and other loans have accrued Sh10 billion.
The CEO noted that the problem has been made worse by the 100 per cent transition for students obtaining a C+ and above which has increased access to institutions.
In 2019, eleven universities were faced with shutdown due to a Ksh9.7 billion tax fraud scheme.
Egerton University and Moi University are some of the leading universities which are battling with a management crisis after teachers laid down their tools over wage reduction.