So-ve-reign: Part 2 - An Addendum

Do you know how long I've wanted to put addendum in the title of a post?  This is brilliant.  I'm just saying...

In an article in the Sunday Nation, see so-ve-reign post, the Prof is quoted as linking the student riots to the economic sabotage by the West. This claim struck me as slightly ridiculous, so I went out and did some reading.

Back in April, reports came out of a plan to increase tuition fees in Kenyan public universities.

The commission’s chief executive, David Some, said on Friday the review has been delayed by lack of trustees to shepherd the University Fund—which is mandated to cost varsity courses afresh. Prof Some said trustees have been identified and will be introduced to the public in coming weeks.

“There will be new fees in place come September when the funding board will carry out reviews on the current charges,” he told the Business Daily in the Friday interview.

The Fund is the creation of the Universities Act of 2012 and its responsibilities include advising the cabinet secretary on university funding, develop criteria for allocation of funds to varsities, establish the minimum pay for lecturers and the costing of courses.

Because we are quite peculiar us Kenyans, this story went from proposed increases to actual increases within a couple of weeks. Next thing we knew students were threatening to 'take to the streets' if these increases weren't reversed. Seeing as there was nothing to reverse, well, you saw what happened next.
After the riots the government issued a press release to explain.

The Universities Act, 2012 provides for the setting up of the Universities Fund. The Universities Funding Board is the one to determine, in consultation with the public universities, the maximum differentiated unit cost for the academic programmes offered in public Universities.

The Ministry wishes to clarify that Vice Chancellors of Public Universities have been working on a model of differentiated Unit cost for financing academic programmes in Public Universities especially through HELB. The Kenya Association of Technical Training Institutions (KATTI) has also initiated a similar exercise to determine the cost of academic programmes under Technical, Vocation Education and Training (TVET) Institutions. The aim is to determine the actual cost of the each degree and diploma programme that Universities and tertiary institutions offer and accordingly peg the cost of each programme on the unit cost. This process has not been completed.
The Government would like to allay the fears of stakeholders, and particularly University students about the purported increase [original formatting, I have no idea why it's in smaller font].

Now how this mess went from talk of increases to reports of increases to riots over increases is anyone's guess, and the insinuation that opposition politicians, or the evil West, had something to do with the students getting agitated enough to call a nationwide riot is not entirely implausible. Student politics is as dirty as the rest of our politics, and for some reason politicians like to get involved, throwing cash around to a select few. Thing is, anyone who has gone through a public university in this country knows that student politics are nowhere near as organised as we'd like them to be. What I'm saying is that these buggers can barely organise a party, let alone co-ordinate an anti-government riot designed to destabilise the government. But hey, that's just my possibly naïve assessment. What I do know is that students taking to the streets to protest what could be massive increases in these harsh economic times is more likely to be about students protesting massive increases in these harsh economic times. Life is expensive in this city, even for students.

Besides, if we're going to start pointing fingers at inciters, why not these ones?

In 2010, a study backed by the World Bank and the government recommended a new financing model for the universities that would have doubled fees and increased interest paid on Helb loans.
[from the Business Daily article quoted above]

The same government accusing the imperialists of sabotaging them are looking into fee revision models that may bear some similarity to recommendations from that most imperialist of banks. This from 2010...

The University Academic Staff Union has lashed out at a proposal to merge 'regular' and 'parallel' degree programmes offered at Kenya's public universities, and accused the World Bank of "sabotage".

We're quite fond of sabotage it seems. I digress.

The reaction came after publication of a report compiled by a team of international and local experts, titled Financing University Education in Kenya. It proposed that public universities turn to parents, students, donors and entrepreneurship to earn income rather than relying on increased government funding.

Aside from recommending that government-sponsored (regular) and self-sponsored (parallel) courses be unified and their students be charged the same tuition fees, the report suggested that fees be pegged to the instructional costs of programmes, their market demand and the prevailing starting salaries of their graduates.

A further proposal was that fees for food and accommodation provided by universities be adjusted upwards.

The experts also proposed a revised governmental annual recurrent budget allocation to universities to add a limited but selective competitive fund for doctorate studies and research.

The imperialist bank suggested hiking fees, rather than the government spending more on tertiary education. Look back at the press release, do you see the similarity? 

All I'm saying is clearly there is some economic sabotage going on, but it has nothing to do with advisories and everything to do with the (no longer?) evil Bank serikali is happy to get into bed with.

Whenever the University of Nairobi riots, the first thing the yuppies in this city do is demand the relocation of Main Campus to Masaku or such like. This despite the fact that some of these yuppies are graduates of said campus. I am. Not a yuppie, I'm a proud alumni of the UoN. I lived in the CBD for 6 years (no, I didn’t repeat any year). As a proud alumni and citizen, I feel the need to warn all you buggers, I will be damned if anyone is going to move my school away to the boondocks. Are the rioting students a nuisance? Definitely. Should they be locked up for the damage they cause? Yes, please, and their colleges made to pay the cost of repairs. Should they be expelled from their respective courses? Of course, back in the day when we had badass VC's with cojones, buggers used to get discontinued all the time. But should the campus be relocated? Never. These students, and the campuses they live in, are a key part of the city. Campus students are why the nightlife in the CBD survives the never ending insecurity. Campus students are the reason those of you who work around said campuses can afford cheaper meals, and groceries. Campus architecture is the reason the city is not a completely concrete jungle. Campus students are the reason men and women too old to be chasing younglings can still date sweet young things, and at bargain basement prices. Campus students are the only residents of the CBD, them and the citizens who live downtown. And campus students are a pain in the ass, the way only idiots who cross highways at a stroll can be...

I had to get that ode to my alma mater out.