Students in fresh bid to reject Universities Act
Student leaders address the press at the Ufungamano house yesterday. PHOTO: KARIUKI MWANGI
NAIROBI, 08-11-2018. The Kenya National Students Working Committee has reignited the calls for an immediate repeal of The Universities (Amendment) Act that came into effect in 2016 bringing radical changes to the structure of students’ leadership.
Speaking in Nairobi yesterday, student leaders drawn from Universities countrywide, together with the Kenya Tuitakayo pressure group demanded that the Act, that was sponsored in parliament by the National Assembly majority leader Aden Duale, be amended with immediate effect and vowed to keep mounting the pressure for the repeal.
The student leaders also decried what they termed improper treatment of students faulting the current leadership structure which has led to the existing loopholes.
Presenting their demands, the chairman of the National Students working committee Maxwell Magawi said, “We reject the Duale law in totality and demand that it is repealed. We also demand for the immediate revocation of all unfair and improper suspensions of student leaders. We must restore academic freedom to all students,”
He demanded an end to gender violence and suppression of female students who he alleged are intimidated from participation in campus leaderships as well as proper accommodation and student welfare in campuses across the country.
“Even minor logistical issues like supply of a pen or projector might take months but if a student delays to pay fees for even 2 weeks, his or her online portal is closed,” Magawi said.
Spokesperson of the group Joku Justice said that it is time for the issues affecting students be consolidated with those affecting workers and addressed noting that the Kenyan workforce and students comprise of the youth. “We want to see that the youth have a voice in the country and that way, we will ensure that power rests with its rightful owner, the common man and the 75 percent of the country which is the youth,” Joku noted.
Universities (Amendment) Act
According to the Universities (Amendment) Act, power of students to elect their leaders directly is taken away and student elections are now done through an electoral colleges system.
“For the purpose of conducting the election of the members of the students’ council, the student association shall constitute itself into electoral colleges based on academic departments, school or faculties,” Says the Act.
The students from each department, school or faculty in the university will elect three representatives, of whom at least one must be of opposite gender from amongst persons who are not candidates.
University student leaders now only hold office for a term of one year and only eligible for one more term as compared to earlier when leadership terms were not limited.