MPs Decline To Give Magoha Powers Over Varsities.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has been dealt a setback after MPs failed to pass the Universities Amendment Bill, 2021, in which he sought greater control over the institutions.
The bill was also opposed by Parliament, as was the placement of government-sponsored students at private universities.
The National Assembly Speaker, Justin Muturi, criticized a report tabled by the Education and Research Committee that gave the minister authority to appoint public university vice-chancellors and control council decisions.
Clauses granting the CS authority to appoint VCs, revoke appointments to public university members, and approve meetings raise concerns about whether this will promote good governance. “It is a matter the committee ought to have considered,” Mr Muturi said.
Giving the minister such broad powers, lawmakers argue, violates the values and principles of governance outlined in the Constitution.
The Universities Amendment Bill, 2021 sought to empower the Secretary of State to take “appropriate action in the public interest” to ensure proper governance in public universities.
If the bill was passed, the CS would have the authority to revoke appointments, transfer and deploy council members, review or vacate council decisions, and grant approval to a council seeking to meet more than four times per year.
The lawmakers claimed that the committee, chaired by Florence Mutua, ignored concerns raised by other MPs and allowed the changes to pass.
Mr Muturi stated that the team did not meet Parliament’s requirement for public participation.
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The Speaker added that there was no indication in the panel’s reports as to whether the committee invited vice-chancellors of the 52 chartered universities, including 32 public and 12 with letters of interim authority, to make presentations.
“There is no mention of the committee inviting and considering crucial input of stakeholders such as the Commission on University Education and existing universities fund boards,” he said.