Education and Finance CS Summoned Over Financial Crisis in Public Universities
MPs want Education CS Ezekiel Machogu and his Treasury counterpart Njuguna Ndung’u summoned over the financial crises facing public universities.
This was after Kamkunji MP Yusuf Hassan sought a statement from the departmental committee on Education and Research chairperson on the measures the government is taking to prevent further accumulation of arrears by public universities.
“In the recent past, public universities have been struggling to survive as they are unable to honour statutory remittances and payment of wages and debts due to banks, contractors and suppliers,” the MP said.
According to the legislator, as at June 2022, the combined debt borne by these institutions was Sh56.1 billion and the figure keeps rising.
Kuppet chairman and Emuhaya MP Omboko Milemba said public universities may collapse in two years’ time if nothing is done.
“Unless we take care of it, it will finally collapse and I think we do not have a lot of time, maybe in two years there will be really a great challenge,” Milemba said.
Seme MP James Nyikal blamed the government for neglecting institutions of higher learning, saying it may reach a point where even students do not want to enrol.
The legislators say they cannot hide their heads in the sand and wait for the institutions to collapse.
“If we are not careful, public universities will die. Parliament is almost saying we are helpless. Very soon all the institutions will close and Kenya will be a laughing stalk,” Pokot South MP David Pkosing said.
The MPs requested the Speaker to direct the committee on Education, led by Tinderet MP Julius Melly, to quiz the two Cabinet secretaries and find a lasting solution.
“We need to take these issues seriously and call the ministers for Education and Finance here and let Parliament address the issue,” Pkosing said.
The legislators said students from poor families will be the most affected if the current crisis is not resolved.
This comes even as it emerged that Nairobi University has raised tuition and accommodation fees whereas Egerton is unable to pay full salaries to its workers.
Other public universities have opted to close down some of their campuses to cut the cost of operations.
Parliament has yet to amend its Standing Orders to have Cabinet secretaries answer accountability questions.
Currently, the MPs can summon the CSs through departmental committees or in a ‘kamkunji’ to have them respond to different issues in their ministry.