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Trainers at the Kenya Coast National Polytechnic now petition the National Assembly

Council and PSC Trainers

Kenya Coast National Polytechnic

Tononoka

Mombasa

27th September 2021 “For Urgent Attention”

 

The Chairperson

Education & Research Committee Chairman

The National Assembly

Box 418442 Postal Code 00100

Nairobi.

 

Through

The Clerk

National Assembly.

 

Dear Sir/Madam,

CALL FOR PARLIAMENTARY AND GOVERNMENT AGENCIES’ INQUIRY INTO THE GRAVE ACTS OF MALADMINISTRATION, ABUSE OF LABOUR RIGHTS, FINANCIAL MISPROPRIETIES, AND ABUSE OF OFFICE AT THE KENYA COAST NATIONAL POLYTECHNIC (KCNP)

We are part of 270 trainers at the Kenya Coast National Polytechnic (KCNP) in Mombasa. We take this opportunity as patriotic Kenyans and professional educators to express our displeasure at the state of affairs in our great Institution, the KCNP. Consequently, we request for your deserved urgent attention, probe and or inquiry into what we see as worsening rot at the Polytechnic.

Back in September 2020, the Staff of the Polytechnic had great hopes the change of administration at the time would revitalize the national institution. However, your attention would prove that things have not only worsened, but also could get out of hand despite regardless of the huge budgets from the government and development partners like World Bank and CIDA are channeling to the institution. We ask the Parliament Committee, the Ministry concerned and other agencies to look into the following without much delay:

       1.     Rampant issues of improprieties, enslavement of trainers, abuse of office, corruption, nepotism and negligence in the Polytechnic Administration (as subsequent points illustrate).

  1. Excessive expenditures on trips around the world by top and senior members of staff.
  2. Excessive and wasteful expenditure on workshops and seminars. These two (2 and 3) happen and consume millions of shillings while key priorities e.g. quality training, provision of basic teaching facilities, trainers’ welfare and crowding in the classrooms are neglected. For example, between January and July 2021, some 30 workshops have been held costing KCNP over Kshs 100 million. Only a small group of staff attend the workshops, and there are some individuals who have attended 17 workshops this year alone. Note the workshops are held in beach hotels and far from Mombasa town, perhaps to make per diems more attractive.
  3. A continued refusal by the Polytechnic Administration to give audience to thetrainers over their deplorable working conditions even after numerous written andoral requests for several months. For example, a legitimate memorandum preparedby 120 Council Trainers and presented to the Administration on August 19, thisyear, has been trashed regardless of the weight of the nine issues for which it soughtroundtable discussions with the administration. To add salt to the wound, the Chief
    Principal, without a due process, ordered sacking of the 15 committee members who signed the memorandum.
  4. Sacking of Council trainers at whims and without a due process when they tryto raise questions about illegal salary deductions, discriminations in work loading,lack of facilities and glaring flaws in their contracts. Currently some 15 trainers areunder victimization and others are threatened. The Deputy Principal Academics hasdeclared any meeting of three or more persons within the Polytechnic must seek
    formal approval from her.
  5. Apparent neglect of the KCNP Council to the problems affecting the workers(particularly council trainers who number 135 against PSC’s 110 trainers) and thePolytechnic as a whole. For example, every other month the Council trainers haveto literally fight for release of their salaries and wages. Often trainers have workedand their pays withheld and later diverted to other uses without the staff consent. Agood case in point is overtime pay for February and March which the administrationhas deliberately refused to release even after the trainers had signed for the same.Another case in point is the arbitrary deduction of pay equivalent to six weeks forterm 11 which amounts to between Kshs 2.5 and 3.5 million.
  6. Governing by confusion and back passing. There is no clear cut organogram andif there is it is just a worthless paper chart. For example, the Deputy Principal incharge of Academics also discharges a large role of the payroll and administrationwhereas there is substantive Deputy in charge of Administration HRM and Financeportfolio. This has rendered the offices very unresponsive to the staff problems.
  7. Discriminatory labour practices contrary to the National Cohesion andIntegration Act, Kenya National Human Rights and Equality Act,Employment Act, the Constitution and the International Labour Organization(ILO) principles. For example, Trainers employed by the Council are forced toteach 16 lessons (24 hours) per week while their PSC counterparts are required toteach 13 lessons (19 hours and a half). The Council trainers earn a paltry Kshs30,000 per month for degree holders and Kshs 25,000 for diploma holders. Therates have been static since 2014. The Trainers are denied any house, commuterand leave allowances. It is unthinkable why the Administration would feel irritatedby trainers who have been working in the Institution for between 2 and 15 years onterms that condemns them to dog’s life.Sir/Madam, note that the Council Trainers have other responsibilities just as thePSC trainers. Such Council Trainers should not be confused with Part timers whohave primary jobs elsewhere. It is heartening that the Council Trainers whoseKCNP job is primary are repeatedly hired on contracts elapse after every threemonths, a gap that the administration has always used to perpetuate theirvulnerability and presumably defeat legal claim. Those who try to speak arepromptly removed and replaced with (sometimes) boyfriends, girlfriends andacquaintances of those in the management. It remains unexplainable whytechnicians and subordinates earn far more than qualified trainers/lecturers many ofwhom in possession of post graduate qualifications and pedagogy.
  8. Intimidation and abuses of the Council trainers. The Chief Principal Ms AnneMbogo and her deputies are on record declaring not once but many times that theywould not look into the trainers’ grievances whatever comes. They argue that they have already done the trainers “a big favour by offering them opportunity to teach” in the Center of Excellence Institution. The Chief Principal has said many times in plenary during the Academic Staff meeting for example on August 17, 2021 at Chandaria Hall: “Those who want to leave, leave; I have many job seekers like you
    at the gate waiting to take up those positions. Be glad with the little you have and shut up, or ship out.” During the same forum attended by about 220 members of staff the Chief Principal also has severally insulted trainers in the open calling them “stupid camels” and thankless lots. In the same forum she ordered the Council Trainers representatives to sit down or else walk out of the meeting and resign.
  9. State of enslavement and pecuniary embarrassments for 120 trainers hired by KCNP Council. Some 80 per cent of the trainers continue to live in slums at Likoni, Kongowea, Makaburini, Muoroto, Msufi Mkavu, Jamvi la Wageni and Soweto from where they walk to work every morning for lack of matatu fares. A Council trainer at KCNP earns mere 270,000 shillings annually instead of the recommended civil service parity of 520,000 shillings minimum (as is the case in well run polytechnics such as at Kabete National Polytechnic, among others). The trainers are denied any pay during the opening week, the last two weeks of the term and the 13 weeks of closure in months of April, August and December. This is regardless of the Trainers being busy throughout with teaching and other duties that characterize the start and ending of the physical class teaching. This has left over trainers and their families to horrible life. One Council Trainer was recently dissuaded by his colleagues from committing suicide after he committed all his time to KCNP teaching over time hours last term only for the administration to announce
    it would pay for only six weeks instead of 12 weeks.
  10. Consistent doctoring and/or omissions of important details in the minutes of proceedings of the Full Academic Staff meeting. The meetings are held twice a term and chaired by the Chief Principal. All contributions made by Council Trainers are edited out of the minutes.
  11. Apparent breach of the statutory law on Polytechnics by the current Chief Principal by reducing Heads of Departments to rubber stamps and puppetry for her unilateral and often emotional decisions. For example, when council trainers expressed their grievances in writing, the HODs tried to argue that dismissing the trainers would not solve the problems, but the Chief Principal insisted on the removal of the 15 trainers from the time table. The trainers were returned only after the PS for TVET reportedly intervened. Still the Chief Principal ordered that the 15 be loaded with only six lessons per week and be paid at the rate of shs 700 per lesson. Though the affected trainers have families and some have sons and daughters in high school and colleges, they are now going to earn at most kshs 16,000 per month.
  12. Filing of deliberate false report by the administration to the office of the Permanent Secretary for TVET. We have authoritative and impeccable information that Chief Principal of KCNP has lied to the PS in writing that the 15 council trainers had been left out of the time table because they had not reapplied for their engagement for term III. The truth of them matter is that they trainers duly reapplied for their engagement and their respective HODs went ahead and loaded them for term III. The Chief Principal in her report deliberately omitted reporting that she was the one
    who instructed the HODs in an academic meeting to remove the 15 trainers. All HODs can attest to this: that the Chief Principal said she was unhappy with the 15 because their colleagues clapped when one of their own contributed an important point at the August 17, 2021, Staff meeting at Chandaria where the Chief Principal was chairing.
  13. KCNP administration stealing from parents and government through inflated invoices to students whereby those on government capitation(after being placed by KUCCPS) are still forced to pay the fees from parents’ pockets on the arguments that the gove rnment funding is slow in coming. Once the capitation comes, the amount is never refunded to the parents or the Government. This has particularly worried many students and despite their complaints, the practice still persists. Some of them have dropped out of school altogether due to this problem.
    Others are forced to defer stage exams e.g. scores students who were supposed to register for the coming November exams have been locked out due to such situations.
  14. Failure by the KCNP administration to abide by the public service provisions on recruitment and promotions, for example the promotion of staff to the five Technical and Vocation Centers (TVC) that fall under the KCNP in the Coast region (The TVCs are Ahmed Mwidani, Likoni, Lunga Lunga, Kaloleni, Weru, and Lamu). Individuals are just picked without any interviews or vetting to take up responsibilities in those upcoming institutions. Nobody understands the criteria used.
  15. Deployment of the Chief Principal’s daughter in the Procurement Office for a paid internship whereas other interns had previously been serving without any earnings in return. There are other interns in other departments currently and are not remunerated anything.
  16. Open humiliation and insulting of trainers in front of students especially by the Deputy Principal in charge of Academics Ms Jane Kariuki. Also she often engages students in gathering intel about trainers and often discusses with the students what punishment she would mete out to trainers. This in our view trivializes the office and amounts to administration vide gossips.
  17. Incitement of the student populace against their subject teachers by the Deputy Principal in charge of Academics. For instance, she recently boasted to the student representatives that she deducted 50 per cent of salaries of some teachers for alleged poor performance, and therefore she welcomed the students to take forward any names of teachers that they have issues with so she could deal with them “categorically”. Nobody knows what she exactly meant by that.
  18. Current standoff between the PSC trainers and the Administration which has resulted to trivial conflicts and unnecessary cases in the office of the Chief Principal. This continues to hamper business in the Polytechnic and these days more than half of PSC staff boycott meeting chaired by the Chief Principal because they are tired of her Bible preaching and insults rather than addressing real issues of quality learning, staff welfare and cartels and scams that have become order of the day over the last one year. A cartel referred by workers as Poly Suckers, for instance, ensures no employee who is in their “good books” accesses and or benefits from the ongoing World Bank programs.
  19. Unethical acts by the Deputy Principal in charge of Academics which among other things include putting official appointments with council trainers at 8 pm (night time) contrary to the civil service work practices that define official working hours, and using informers in the institution to put surveillance on workers and screen shooting their social media comments. There is evidence written memos on such 8pm appointments.
  20. Keeping trainers as casuals for years contrary to the employment act and gross irregularities like favoritism and nepotism during every cycle of PSC trainers.
  21. Rampant non-remission of KRA and HELB dues despite deducting PAYE from the wages of the Council trainers, for several years. This has caused several trainers to incur huge HELB penalties of shs 5,000 per month.
  22. “Disappearance” of the Chief Principal from KCNP whereby she is seen barely five days per month and during which she decides to see only persons she wants to see rather than those deserving to see her for genuine reasons.
  23. Exclusion of the employees in the formulation of the multimillion five-year strategy for the KCNP. This has caused the strategy to ignore input of staff and to leave out matters of staff welfare and development.
  24. Failure by the KCNP administration to pursue restoration of the grabbed 15- acre land at Shanzu despite an assurance by the then Education CS Dr Fred Matiang’i that the Administration commence the process with his full support.
  25. Neglect and or failure by the KCNP administration to resolve a row with the neighboring Mwembe Kuku community over the ownership and management of sizeable part of Polytechnic main campus land, whereby the conflict caused the locals to invade the Institution three months ago (June 2021) and thereupon destroyed the makeshift tents that are used as classrooms. The community has always coexisted with the Institution, but unilateral decisions and arrogance of the current administration has resulted to discontent. This has sadly brought to an end the popular football contests between students and the community team that has always promoted the Community-Polytechnic bonding.
  26. Other issues incidental to the management-made problems at the KCNP. While we (PSC and Council trainers) are solemnly committed to the progress of the KCNP where some of us have worked since the year 2000, we feel the school is headed in the wrong direction at this point in time. This in our view can hamper this otherwise vibrant Polytechnic from serving our country as good; more so in this era of education
    reforms, unless the Parliament expedites a thorough probe without further delay. Sir/Madam, we are afraid that the very wonderful Kshs 10 billion World Bank funded program famously called EASTRIP that involves building a Polytechnic branch in Kwale (which is a very good idea), among other projects, is being used by the KCNP administration to paint a rosy picture of the Polytechnic, whereas the basic structures
    and systems are highly fragile and personalized. The mood of the staff is at an all-time low.

READ:

  1. Fraud Involving Fees At The Kenya Coast National Polytechnic

  2. Trainers at the Kenya Coast National Polytechnic blow whistle over scams

We wish to go on record that when the World Bank withdraws after the project period (expiring in two years from now), everything could turn to a white elephant unless the culture of administrative impunity is addressed. We also think that the apparent expenditure race for the World Bank fund and the “closed shop” process of implementing many of the project components may not augur well for the Kenyan image in the eyes of the World Bank.

Sir/Madam, we are ready and willing to be interviewed in the plenary of your Parliamentary Committee on Education to shed more light on any of these issues. We reserve our names for now for fear of victimization, until we get assurance of protection. We hope your parliamentary committee has unlimited jurisdiction to inquire into such complaints as these, and to conduct a fact finding visit and possibly consider holding a public sitting, say at the Chandaria Hall, for the workers to speak
out. We look forward to hear from you.

Yours Sincerely

CONCERNED KCNP TRAINERS

(BOTH PSCs AND COUNCIL’s)

Cc

CS PSC

CS Education

PS TVET

Commission on the Administration of Justice

Local MP for Mvita


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