by Maximilla Wafula
PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES PRESIDENT’S LEADERS DEMANDS THE WITHDRAWAL REMARKS MADE BY CS EZEKIEL’S MACHOGU.
Today President of Nairobi University Melvine Thogo led other elected presidents from Public Universities, JKUAT, KU and Daystar in a press conference at Nairobi University demanding the withdrawal remarks made by C’s Ezekiel Machogu on the withdrawal of the public university funding within 48 hours .Failure to adhere to that , all president a cross agreed to call on the strike to all the public universities facilities untill their matters is heard .
The leaders condemned the remarks made by the Cabinet Secretary for Education, Hon Ezekiel Machogu. While addressing the fraternity of Dedan Kimathi University of Science and Technology over the weekend, Mr. Machogu stated that the State is on the verge of withdrawing its financial support to public universities.
The same State that intends to allocate slightly over 1.4 Billion to political parties for the coming financial year based on the 2nd November, 2022 Gazette Notice by the Registrar of Political Parties. The same state whose Cabinet Secretary for Public Service Hon Aisha Jumwa hinted at increasing salaries for public servants. The remarks by the CS are unsettling considering that he has been appointed to serve in the Kenyan Government that promised to bridge the funding gap and even fund non-tuition needs for the students. Are Mr. Machogu’s remarks to be taken as part of the education agenda of the Kenya Kwanza government? Is that really what was included in their “PLAN”? Were they just campaigning in poetry but intend to govern in prose?
We have gone through the trouble of looking at our Constitution and the Universities Act on this issue that we address you on today. Article 43 on Economic and Social Rights provides for the right to education for all persons. The withdrawal of funding for public universities highly threatens this right. If the state claims it does not have the resources to implement the right to education, then it should seek more guidance from Article 20(5)(a) and (b) of the Constitution of Kenya. The Article states;
(5) In applying any right under Article 43, if the State claims that it does not have the resources to implement the right, a court, tribunal or other authority shall be guided by the following principles—
(a) It is the responsibility of the State to show that the resources are not available;
(b) In allocating resources, the State shall give priority to ensuring the widest possible enjoyment of the right or fundamental freedom having regard to prevailing circumstances, including the vulnerability of particular groups or individuals.
It is a no brainer that the youth are part of the vulnerable group who are specifically protected under the Bill of Rights. As per Article 55(a), the State is to take measures to ensure that the youth access relevant education and training. It is an open secret that the youth form the absolute majority in our institutions of higher learning.
Mr. Machogu should do the needful and retract his statement on withdrawal of university funding. Other than looking at the above constitutional provisions, we also invite him to look at Part VI of the Universities Act which provides in part for university funding by government. It mandates that the government will fund public universities. i
We want to believe that Mr. Machogu’s remarks were an inadvertent error and that his office will promptly issue a correction. Mr. Machogu should know that the funding of public universities is governed and protected by the rule of law but in case he is not aware, we will lead university students in reminding him that the best way we know how.