By Josiah Odanga
In the eleventh hour to Kisii University’s sixth graduation ceremony, a video went viral on the institution’s Facebook page, Kisii University Comrades Forum. In the video, a student-protester is seen man-handled by varsity security officials.
Robert Wambui Maina was protesting the disappearance of his marks, a matter that would lock him out of the final graduation list 2018, if he kept quiet.
The role of any student in any institution of higher learning is to pay fees, attend classes, do assignments and projects, write exams and qualify. The same cannot be said of Kisii university.
Students of Kisii go an extra mile searching for examination marks and transcripts. And as if that is not enough, people who go through the system of ‘the University of the 21stCentury’ go another mile nursing depression wounds because of certificates which never come on time after graduation.
More than 5000 varsity’s alumni who were conferred ‘the power to read and do all that appertains to their degrees, diplomas and certificates’ are still waiting their alma mater to issue them with certificates, 53 days since graduation.
But this shouldn’t be strange because even in the past five years graduates of Kisii University often endure through the first quarter of every year without that important piece of paper.
Allan Mtange Imbalamabala, an alumnus of the 2015 class, had to pluck a twig and stage a protest to be issued with his certificate in 2016 but he could only receive it in March. Hivisasa.com carried the story with the headline: “Relief for graduands as the long wait for certificates ends”. The class of 2017 also could only collect their certificates in March. Evidenced from Kisii University website, the availability of certificates was announced on 6th March 2018 at 12:39pm.
However, speaking on phone Tuesday Prof Fredrick Wanyama, Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic and Student Affairs, refuted the report that the varsity has always delayed issuance of certificates throughout the first quarter of every year.
“I’ve never seen that happen in Kisii University. Graduands always receive their certificates on time,” he responded, adding that “the problem we have are thousands of certificates which have never been collected and now we are thinking of introducing a penalty.”
But an unofficial update on the institutions Facebook page by Peter Kuria, understandably an insider, indicated Tuesday that certificates for the 2018 class will be ready for issuance starting Friday. “Following the announcement of Teachers Service Commission (TSC ) jobs… the decision has been reached that only Education graduates will be given first priority,” Kuria’s post read in part.
It continued: “The issuance will be from 8th February 2019 to 15 February 2019.” A section of graduates have so far criticized the said decision saying everybody is in need of his/her certificate in no particular order because everyone is apparently being passed by jobs and opportunities to advance their studies.
If Kuria’s post is anything to go by, then it is clear Kisii University will spend the whole of February issuing certificates to the more than 5000 graduates of last year, who are spread across eight Faculties and schools.
Maurine (not her name), who graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor of Education Arts – history/CRE, has had a painful experience. She narrates:
“I couldn’t understand what the problem was. It was real struggle in our faculty. Our names disappeared mysteriously from the final list yet all along we were in the provisional lists.
The problem couldn’t be mine because I had done my part as a student; searching and ensuring availability of all marks and sitting for special exams for the ones which were missing.
I had also cleared all fees, including extra ones which I didn’t understand came how. But I’m happy I graduated although I suffered serious depression.” Maurine who spoke on phone also said it is annoying how the certificates have been delayed. “As a trained teacher, the license I have to teach in any school is a TSC number… you know Matiang’I (former Education Cabinet Secretary) doesn’t want strangers in schools. Besides, TSC has announced jobs and we cannot apply because we’ve no numbers. Right now I’m just rotting in the village” Maurine added.
In 2016, Kisii University adopted the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System which would, among other things, be responsible for the effective conveyance of marks and transcripts. But while commenting on the same, Kuria said the challenge is because the ERP was implemented only partially.
Both Esther Makori, Chair of Department (COD) Management Science and Robert Wambui Mainaconfirm that the latter graduated. In deed as seen by this reporter, Robert was number 778 in the graduation booklet, having attained a Second Class Upper Division Bachelor of Science Purchasing and Supplies Management.
The COD recalls the misunderstanding with Robert was due to “one missing mark” a matter which led Robert to protest. “He turned violent, broke a door to reach where I was. That’s when we called the security personnel. I think he must have been high on something,” she explained.
Sought for a comment, Robert, apparently intimidated, denied being the protester in the video. He instead praised the university for excellent service delivery. “The video did not show the face of the protester. It is not me in the video. I have nothing against the university.
I am happy the university issued me with all my provisional transcripts and I graduated,” he remarked. But in another sentence, Robert admits “it was a struggle” to make it to the ‘list’. Especially because he needed to inform his people and make one or two arrangements for his graduation.
Kuria who had published screenshots of the protester’s marks on social media responded saying the student was not mentally upright. He also confirmed having pulled down his Facebook posts. But how a student who had failed in some units graduated can only baffle.
Kuria accessed the protester’s transcripts and posted them online; the fact that the protestercouldn’t access the same notwithstanding. According to Kisii University Statute XLIII (12), “publication of all university examination results shall be the responsibility of the Deputy VC (Academic and students Affairs) which in this case is Prof Wanyama.
Although the Deputy CEO Prof Wanyama has indicated that all is well insofar as transcripts and certificates are concerned in the ‘Harvad of Kenya’, as the institution was recently christened by the Vice Chancellor Prof John Akama, the story of Robert and/or the Protester, epitomizes the amount of weird actions it takes to make it to the graduation list. Imbalamabala’s twig highlighted the amount of bile a graduate of ‘Harvad’ require to demand his/her certificate.
No story best describes the level of unreliability to the ERP system that the institution adopted to help improve quality of service than the story of Maurine. Besides, Maurine’s experience is specific on depression as the disease that a Kisii University graduate must learn to endure; notwithstanding the fact that the surge in suicide cases in Kenya has been blamed largely on depression.
Peter Ndagi who graduated from Kisii three years ago, points an accusing finger to the failure by the institution to pay lecturers on time. That some of the teaching staff withhold marks as a bargaining chip for their salaries.
“I don’t know the changes they have made since I left three years ago. However, if the issues are the way I left them, I would blame them on lack of finances to pay lecturers who in turn fail to submit results on time, and poor administration that fail to ensure that work is done efficiently and effectively,” Ndagi said. The former students leader added that lack of client oriented services is also a challenge that needs to be addressed.
A lecturer in the Faculty of Information Science and Technology, who spoke on anonymity grounds confirmed Ndagi’s claims saying there are instances, in the past, where lectures could go without salary. “Considering the amount of time I’ve taken in the university, Imust admit that there is notable improvement when it comes to lecturers’ pay.
But honestly I must also say that charity ended in the days of Mother Teresa. You know, I’ve been looking for you and you’re hiding, so I decide it’s your turn to also look for me.As of this date, what I can say is the lack of ‘motivation’ to even start marking the scripts. Sometimes the institution is also reluctant to tell us to relay the marks, perhaps because they know we’ll ask for the motivation.”
Kisii University boasts of ISO 9001:2008 Certification by the International Standardization Organization. This points out to 7 Quality Management Principles (QMPs), namely: Customer focus, leadership, engagement of people, process approach, Improvement, evidence based decision making and relationship management.
A 2017 research by Mary Mutuku of the University of Nairobi found out that Kisii University falls short of at least 4 QMPs. They included customer focus, leadership, continuous improvement and engagement of people.According to ISO, the QMPs “can be used as a foundation to guide an organization’s performance improvement.”
A number of continuing students who spoke on anonymity conditions say the ERP has never been effective. “ERP nijinatu (ERP is just a name). Most things here are still manual,” said one of the students. “What do you conclude when you want to register for a new semester and you are told you cannot access your portal? What do you say when the transcripts download section in the ERP is empty and you have to call individual lecturers searching for missing marks?” another student posited.
The students also report that the varsity is always quick in punishing dissent, “not knowing that the university is here because we are.” A story is told of students who’ve resumed studies this February after serving two year-long suspension for having questioned the reality of ERP.
This ending week, Kisii University’s 2018 law graduates have only been admitted to the advocates training program at the Kenya School of Law on condition. “KSL allowed us to sign commitment letters on ground that we avail our certificates not later than 30th March 2019,” explained Gabriel Okoyo, one of the KSL entrants.
Last year, and of course in the past years, Kisii university has been charging Ksh4000 for graduation. Considering that 5603 students qualified last year, the institution received a cool Ksh22 million. Ideally, money which would work towards the ceremony of Friday 14 December 2018, which occurred at the institution’s Chancellor’s Pavilion and printing of final transcripts and certificates.
Briefly. The ceremony at the pavilion was shambolic and embarrassing. Tents and chairs arrived with guests on the material day. Eventually graduands were beseeched to “pick any seat and find a space to sit.” A situation that only saw graduands find space in the scorching afternoon sun. This happened despite the Minutes of the Graduation Committee chaired by Prof Fredrick Wanyama, as seen by this reporter, indicting that the tents and chairs were hired from Nairobi; at a cost of Ksh14 per seat and the cost of tents running into a million.
Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology (JOOUST) is Kisii University’s age-mate. Both were chartered as fully-fledged universities in 2013. JOOUST held their 6th graduation on Friday the 14th December 2018, same as Kisii University.
The difference is that JOOUST’s graduation certificates were ready for collection by students as at Monday 17thDecember 2018, three days after graduation. Don Ojwang’, a BSc Public Health, a graduate of JOOUST class of 2018 confirmed having collected his certificate. Tony Amecha, Students Association of JOOUST Secretary General, confirmed the same saying their institution has never had issues of missing transcripts and delay of certificates after graduation.
The Commission for University Education (CUE) is the body mandated to cover quality in universities. A team from CUE led by the Head of Quality Audit Division Prof Anne Nanguluconducted a week-long inspection at Kisii University in September 2018, or thereabouts.
Attempts to get CUE respond comprehensively to our queries in the matter of transcripts and certificates at Kisii University have not been successful since the only email response so far reads: “concerns received and forwarded to the office of the Chief Executive to consider.” Our calls have also gone unanswered. However, it will be interesting to know what CUE’s report shall finally be as appertains this matter.
Nyamira KCSE Candidates Under Probe Over Chemistry Exam Leakage
Authorities in Nyamira County are investigating an incident where a KCSE Chemistry paper is alleged to have leaked to students at Nyamira secondary school.
The private center has eight students. Reports from the ministry of education have hinted that only one student, out of the eight is ‘safe’ as they were not directly/indirectly linked to the scheme.
One of the students is alleged to have received the exam questions through WhatsApp and later shared them with fellow students in class.
Authorities have since arrested the principal of Kiabiraa Secondary School, the exam supervisor, invigilators, and Chemistry teachers at the same school.
Tumu Tumu girls administration on the spot for assaulting lesbian suspects
A letter written by a parent of one of suspected lesbian girls at Tumu Tumu girls in Karatina has found its way to the media.
In the letter, the parent is complaining of how the school management led by the principal is discriminating the girls yet no proof of them involving in such unnatural acts is there.
Here is the full letter
“I am writing on behalf of frustrated parents and guardians of students studying at Tumu Tumu Girls High School in Karatina.
For the past week, 32 girls have been subjected to harassment, assault, bullying, insults and isolation by the administration led by the principal, Mrs Jedidah Mwangi and deputy principal Bibiana Gicheru. The reason being that they are alleged to be lesbians. When we asked the school for evidence, they refused to back up their allegations. The girls were prevented from sitting for their end of term exams, inspite of us having paid school fees.
Some of the girls have been beaten so badly, that they have visible sores on their backs and feet. They were made to walk around the school without shoes for a whole week as part of the punishment and some have since developed painful blisters.
They were called criminals by the deputy principal and told that it’s a privilege for them to be given food. In addition, they were isolated from the rest of the girls, during class and exam time. They were forced to stand in the rain and, as a result, some of them got sick but had no one to call for help. Currently, as I write this, the girls have been sent home and instructed to come back on 7th May (3 days after official re-opening), which means they will miss the opening exams as well. We’ve obtained medical reports for the trauma and physical injuries endured by the girls. When some parents demanded for answers, the school’s security officers threw them out of the compound.
This is so wrong because, even if the allegations are true, why did the administration of Tumu Tumu Girls have to torture these kids? Why would the administration decide to take such inhumane actions against young girls who are under their care? Why not call the parents and talk about this issue? If the principal and deputy principal have evidence, why do parents have to wait for a month to see it? Some girls are traumatized and can’t to go back to the school because of the shame, stigma, and treatment they have gone through. he girls were exposed to humiliation and ridicule by their peers, they were tagged with manila papers on their chest inscribed- “DON’T COME NEAR ME!”
We need justice for our kids and demand answers from the administration. It’s so unfortunate that the principal and her deputy are ruining these young kids’ lives based on mere allegations. T Can the Nyeri County Education Ministry officials please intervene on behalf of the kids? #SemaUkweli”
Is sex the price to pay for stardom in film?
By Henix Obuchunju
Female actors in the low income settlements are still faced with the challenge of having to accept sexual favors in exchange for opportunities in the film industry.
Rashid Mwango, a popular actor who has featured in various local TV programs, admits that some producers exploit vulnerable but talented young ladies with a false promise of greener pastures.
Rashid Mwango who has featured in jela five star and chini ya mnazi adds that upcoming actors often have to persevere various hardships before their breakthrough including working without pay.
He however, urges young talents not to be demoralized by their present circumstances
According to the kibra based actor who traces his roots in Kilifi, young people interested in the film industry must be committed and persevere, if they are to reap the benefits of their acting
“Young people especially actors and models with a talent should build a foundation by knowing what is expected of them before thinking of quitting for other alternatives” says Mwango.
Happy with the progress made so far, the actor who first made his debut in the acting industry in his pre-teens says that there has been a lot of positive change in the industry but there is still a lot to be done to protect young talent from unfair exploitation.
“Nowadays, we have lawyers who can help in signing of contracts which assures us of pay. And furthermore, the industry now has better pay” reveals Mwango.
Helping young people to create livelihoods through art has often been fronted as a solution to a country that is grappling with an extremely high unemployment rate
A recent study by the united nations development programme (UNDP) has ranked Kenya as having the highest unemployment rate in east Africa region. According to the study, one out of every five youth in Kenya is unemployed even as thousands of graduates flock the job market every year.
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