Mount Kenya University plans to kick-start the construction of 3,000 hostel units in Thika town next month in an effort to address housing challenges facing its students.
The Founder and Chairman of the University, Simon Gicharu said they are at the verge of receiving Sh.2.5 billion humanitarian grant from Stag-Africa, a development partner from South Africa that will be used to implement the project at the University’s Happy Valley land in Landless Estate.
He said the project would be the second largest students’ housing units offering modern and secure learning environment in Africa after Stellenbosch University in South Africa.
Currently, most of the students either live in rentals in Thika town or hostels approved by the University, quite a distance from their classes.
The students have complained of having to walk long distances to access classrooms, sometimes facing insecurity challenges from the town muggers.
“We will receive a delegation from Stag-Africa next week to establish and affirm the project. The proposal has been approved and we await the ground breaking ceremony. This comes at a time when most students joining the higher learning institution are grappling with housing challenges,” he said.
Gicharu spoke on Saturday during farewell party for the outgoing Vice Chancellor, Prof. Stanley Waudo who has served the University for 11 years. Prof. Peter Wanderi takes over as acting VC.
Meanwhile, Gicharu announced plans to commence the payment of Sh. 200 million salary arrears they owe to its part-time lecturers.
He said they hope to clear the debt by June next year in a move aimed at streamlining the institution’s operations.
“We have set aside Sh.200 million to pay the first batch of the tutors and we hope to begin by the end of the month. It will go in three phases until June 2020,” he said.
He said the arrears were accrued due to a drop in revenue after reforms initiated by the Education Ministry in recent years leading to a reduction in student admissions.
During the event, the University launched a College of Graduate Studies and Research which will coordinate research driven graduate training, innovation activities and outreach activities.
The University has also set up of a Sh.100 million Endowment Fund to sponsor needy students and intends to spend Sh.5 million this semester alone in all its campuses.
By Muoki Charles