Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i has decried leadership crisis in Kenyan universities manifested in financial fraud, ethnic mobilisation and falling academic standards.
He also decried leadership wrangles in the universities, saying they were undermining academic programmes.
He gave the example of a university whose council cannot operate because of several suits in court challenging the appointment of its members.
Dr Matiang’i said the institutions of higher learning had become ethnic enclaves where staff recruitment was based on ethnicity instead of merit, adding that in some of the institutions, council or senate meetings could easily be transacted in vernacular as they were dominated by members of the same ethnic group.
He said leadership crisis had undermined the ability of the universities to compete internationally, attract research funding and promote innovation.
“Universities must provide a leadership that will deliver quality education for Kenyans and serve as a model for other institutions in the country,” said the CS on Wednesday.
Dr Matiang’i was speaking during the launch of a book by former University of Nairobi Vice-Chancellor and current Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) chairman George Magoha.
Dr Matiang’i announced that the Commission for University Education (CUE) will set up a full-fledged leadership development programme to train university administrators in the country to cure the management crisis affecting the institutions of higher learning.
“The initiative will ensure universities had competent leaders who will deliver on set objectives,” said the CS.
He called on university managers to prioritise projects that will help students and improve quality of education instead of investing in those that consumed resources but gave no returns.
He wondered how an institution can invest more than Sh400 million to set up new campuses outside the country yet students were learning and living under deplorable conditions.
Speaking at the launch of his book, Tower of Transformational Leadership, held at the University of Nairobi, Prof Magoha said universities should recruit people based on competence and experience and not on ethnic considerations.
Prof Magoha said ethnicity had undermined the country’s social, economic and political growth and academics. He also asked scholars to record their experiences for reference by Kenyans.