Tasks varsity agency boss Ntarangwi expected to prioritise

A new chief executive officer of the Commission for University Education (CUE) is set to take charge on Tuesday with his work already cut out.

Prof Mwenda Ntarangwi, a scholar based in the USA, will replace Prof David Some who will exit Monday.

Some of the areas that will need Prof Ntarangwi’s immediate attention include universities running unapproved degree courses, lack of teaching staff and uncoordinated establishment of campuses, which have been identified as part of the rot in universities.

Political interference, tribalism, failure to follow the law in promotion of academic staff, and moonlighting by part-time lecturers will also be in his in-tray.

The new boss will also be required to spearhead implementation of recommendations of an audit that unearthed massive irregularities in management of higher learning institutions early this year.

The audit revealed that in some cases, students were graduating before the set study period with some finishing a bachelor’s degree in nine months.

Other universities were running programmes only meant to make money at the expense of quality education.

Prof Ntarangwi, who holds a doctorate in Cultural Anthropology from University of Illinois, was appointed in July by Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i. He will serve for five years.

Contacted by the Sunday Nation, the CEO said that he will only be able to outline his plans once he takes over.

He is expected to inject new blood to the institution that has been criticised for doing little to rein in institutions that flout set guidelines and standards.

While announcing the appointment, Dr Matiang’i said: “Your appointment comes at a time when the university education sector is going through a series of reflection and reforms. I wish you the very best as you take up this post.”

Dr Matiang’i went on: “I look forward to working with you as you steer the university regulatory framework to greater heights, with an eye on the highest quality, efficiency, effective leadership and management in the university education sector.”

Universities have until November next year to ensure that all their teaching staff have doctorate degrees.

A report by CUE released last year indicated that the country has less than 10,000 PhD holders, and requires 1,000 PhDs per year in order to narrow the student:lecturer ratio.

CUE was established in 2012. Its new boss comes in with vast experience in both academia and administrative positions.

Besides the PhD, Prof Ntarangwi has masters in Cultural Anthropology (1995) from University of Illinois, Masters in Swahili cultural studies from Kenyatta University in 1990 and a Bachelor of Education (language education) from Kenyatta University (1988).

Between 2012 and 2015, he was the executive director, International Association for the Promotion of Christian Higher Education, and associate director, office of Off-Campus programmes, Calvin College.

In 2008-2011, he was the director, African and African Diaspora Studies, Calvin College, while from 1999-2003, he served as director and assistant professor, St Lawrence University Kenya semester programme in Nairobi.

Prof Ntarangwi comes in with vast experience in both academia and administrative positions.

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