Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha has told vice-chancellors to plan on how to relieve non-core and excess staff of their duties during the Covid-19 pandemic period.
Magoha told VCs that they should be abreast with international practices where 70 per cent of staff are academic staff and 30 per cent non-teaching staff.
“If VCs and councils decide to create more management positions, there will be financial implications which may not be necessary. They must consult the Treasury and assure the government it is viable and sustainable. This idea of employment without consulting the government has to stop. You must have the right size of staff because the government is like God. It helps those who help themselves,” said Magoha.
“Either they perform or leave. If it worked while I was a VC at University of Nairobi, why can’t it work here at Egerton or at any other public university?”
Magoha spoke during the 42nd graduation ceremony by Egerton University in Njoro, Nakuru County, which took place virtually.
He blamed professors for failing to implement change in public universities, terming them as hardliners who rarely listen to other people’s opinion.
“Professors managing public universities are the biggest stumbling blocks in reforming the higher education sector in Kenya. President Uhuru Kenyatta gave me the first directive of reforming universities but I must say it is one of the most difficult challenges because professors are very difficult people to deal with, me being one of them. They don’t see why one should tell them anything because they think they know everything. Unless these professors identify their challenges, there will be problems and we shall continue to have problems in public universities,” he said.
Prof Magoha also asked lectures to adopt online learning as the new normal, since it might take long to eradicate the covid-19 pandemic.
“I am happy with Prof Mwonya for telling us the truth – that before the Covid-19 era she was among those not very serious with online learning. That is the new normal and we must embrace it because the pandemic is probably going to stay here for a long time since it came abruptly. We must find a way to exist,” he added.
Most universities have been forced to slash employee salaries by up to 40 percent in order to keep afloat during the pandemic.
Even as the Universities await re-opening in January 2021, others have turned to online classes to keep going, though few students have bought the idea.