The financial distress facing public universities continues to worsen, with Multimedia University of Kenya the latest to find itself in the spotlight.
Reports that the university is now asking unpaid lecturers to swap debts of millions of shillings in salary arrears with school fees of their kin at the institution, amid a biting cash crunch threatening to ground the institution’s operations.
Some dons who taught as far back as five years ago are yet to be paid to date. The case of Multimedia University is not isolated.
Several public universities have not paid part-time lecturers for months besides owing more than Sh60 billion in statutory deductions.
This has left learners with poor lecturers and go for weeks without meeting their tutors, compromising the quality of the education system. Worse, there are some universities that are relying on undergraduate degree holders to teach and fill the staffing gaps.
This is disturbing because universities are supposed to be centres of excellence when it comes to research and training. They should be the last contact when it comes to sharpening learners for the job market.
Quality of graduates s one of the key selling points for Kenya in attracting multinationals to set up shop in the country. When this fails, the burden of training is now shifted to the employers who now have to retrain the half backed learners to fit in the job market, increasing the cost of doing business.
The government must move with speed and deal with the financial distress facing universities before it is too late.