Moi University Council has officially handed over Odera Akang’o Campus in Yala town, Siaya County to Maseno University.
The handing over ceremony was presided over by the Vice Chancellors of the two institutions, Prof. Isaac Sanga Kosgey (Moi University) and Prof. Julius Omondi Nyabundi (Maseno) respectively. The occasion was witnessed by Education Cabinet Secretary (CS), Professor George Magoha.
Speaking at the occasion, Prof. Magoha warned management of public universities against arbitrary reforms in their institutions without consulting relevant government bodies.
Prof. Magoha said though universities urgently require reforms to enable Kenyans get value for money, the same must be done in consultation with the government but not at the whims of individuals entrusted with the mandate of managing them.
He said that neither President Uhuru Kenyatta, nor him, as the CS-In-Charge of Education, has delegated the mandate of reforming the institutions of higher learning to the Chairmen of the University Councils nor the Vice Chancellors.
In an apparent reference to a recent decision by Nairobi University to abolish some offices and faculties and increase fees, a move that was halted by the government, Prof. Magoha told the universities management, to always consult widely and act for the best interest of the children and future generations.
“Universities belong to the government. They are state assets, not individual assets. As you reform, you must refer back to the law, it does not matter who you are,” said the Cabinet Secretary, who was flanked by Gem Member of Parliament, Elisha Odhiambo and Siaya Deputy Governor, Dr. James Okumbe.
Magoha at the same time blasted Kenyan universities for wasting money through bloated non-academic staff.
Saying that the public institutions of higher learning must get their act right, the CS challenged the institutions to move towards the internationally acceptable standards of 70 per cent academic staff and 30 per cent non – academic.
“We are wasting money on human resource at the universities. It is the professor who defines the universities and their strength. Some of us have decided that it is the professor who must go first,” he said and wondered who the hundreds of supporting staff would be supporting after the professors have been shown the door through retrenchment.
Magoha, known for his hands on approach, said he had been forced to go slow on public universities, after he realized that a “quiet” amendment to the Universities Act made the Cabinet Secretary, a ceremonial Head.
“When I was appointed, one of the tasks the President gave me, was to transform universities to make them lean and efficient,” he said, adding that he hit the road with gusto, but soon hit a brick wall.
“I came with the normal gusto that I have to move up with speed. I later found out that the brick wall was due to a quiet amendment of the Universities Act which made the Minister impotent,” he said, adding that this made him shift focus to early learning.
By Philip Onyango