Trainers at the Kenya Coast National Polytechnic blow whistle over scams

By Mombasa Reporter

Over 100 tutors hired by the Kenya Coast National Polytechnic (KCNP) council are languishing in poverty, as senior administrators of the institution continue to divert votes allocated by government to compensate them.

Though the tutors should ideally receive the recommended (PSC parity) salary of between kshs 40,000 and 70,000 per month, the unscrupulous administrators continue to pay the tutors a paltry shs 25,000 for degree holders and shs 20,000 for diploma holders, regardless of one’s experience or length of service.

Well informed sources in the national polytechnic say a clique of well entrenched cartel (referred in hushed tones as Poly Suckers) has been misappropriating estimated shs 36 million per year that should ideally foot part of the earnings of the over 100 council-hired trainers.

“KCNP is paying us a net of just shs 25k per month for a degree holder like me, and shs 20k for any trainer who is a diploma holder.  Would you imagine we have been asking for a review since 2013?  And when we try to push harder we are fired, or removed from the contract,” said a trainer in the Building Engineering Department, asking not to be named for fear of being sacked.

His counterpart from the Department of Hospitality & Tourism added: “When Dr Fred Matiang’i was education CS, in 2016, promoted this school into a national polytechnic and changed its name from Mombasa Technical Training to KCNP, we were very excited.

“We were told the government allocations had increased in line with the new status and new policy for TVET improvement.  However, it seems only few in the top management are enjoying the benefits in different ways.”

The hospitality tutor said it was sad that some tutors have been resigning from the polytechnic and heading to “village polytechnics” where they get similar or higher pay yet status of those institutions was far lower than that of a polytechnic.

She suspected some individual in the administration could be frustrating current trainers to pave way for more of their own protégés.  She cited last year recruitment of the PSC trainers where some new faces were picked leaving out well qualified and experienced council trainers.

The tutors have now revealed how schemes of the KCNP cartel are executed.  In a whole year a Council tutor is paid for only 24 weeks while the other 28 weeks go unpaid. Where the pay for the rest 28 weeks go, only the so-called Poly Suckers may possibly know.

“In a year we have three terms of three months each.  Every term, the Principal in charge of Academics Ms Jane Kariuki forces us to sign a work contract on the second or third week arguing there is no learning in the beginning weeks.  Then she omits from our contracts the last two weeks of the term, arguing those are exclusively exam weeks.  So often we end up with a contract of seven weeks per term,” the tutor explained showing an example of the contract.

“The Principal of Academics also advises that finance officer not to pay us for April, August and November plus December vacations. She keeps on saying that is the government policy; sometimes we have wanted to write to the CS but the DPA has her informers amongst us.  Some of our colleagues have been fired for discussing these abuses,” the tutor revealed.

The tutors said the institution has no reason whatsoever to deny them holiday pay since they spend entire vacation marking scripts for huge classes, besides supervising students on industrial attachment.

The trainers also wonder how the Polytechnic could offer quality training when it continues forcing trainers to teach for 24 hours a week, rather than 12 hours.  They pointed out that universities of technology in Kenya have their lecturers teach for 12 hours as the standard for diploma and certificate classes, which is what national polytechnics in Kenya have traditionally had.

An insider conversant with the goings on at the KCNP claims the scams rocking KCNP extend beyond that of shortchanging trainers adding they could rival those that rocked Masai Mara University last year in what came to be known as The Mara Heist.  He hoped the current administration would sort out the issue of trainers before the World Bank learns of “these disturbing abuses” at a time that KCNP is implementing a shs 10 billion World Bank project on regional logistics and supply chain improvement.

Acts of nepotism, worker intimidation, and victimization have reportedly become the order of the day.

The cartels try to maximize on the surplus for looting by compounding classes to huge sizes of 50 students or more contrary to the internationally recommended 30 students for quality training of the practical courses.  This crowding of the small lecture rooms has created more risks for Covid-19 infections.

There was a drama on March 4, 2021 when a visit by the new Education PS for TVET Ms Sarah Ruto forced the KCNP administrators to rush to KEMU campus and hired spaces there to relocate huge classes in order to “hide the mess from the ministry officials” as one senior administrator was heard to comment.

Our sources say that the new “born again” Chief Principal Ms Anne Mbogo who was posted from Kiirua TTI in Embu to KCNP in October 2020 could be inadvertently falling under siege of the ruthless cartels considering that her promise to sort out the suffering of the Council-hired trainers is seemingly fading.

Last year, financial governance of KCNP came under serious query by government auditors when the institution posted an expense of staggering shs 14 million on imprests for overseas trips (alone) within just one year.

Sources close to the administration admit that the heist on foreign trips was part of the factors that caused  abrupt transfer of the otherwise well connected former Chief Principal Mrs Mary Muthoka from the national polytechnic to the tiny Wote Technical Training Institute in Makueni.  She declined take up the position and has never reported to the TTI up to date in what many interpret as sheer show of might to the education CS.

Meanwhile the KCNP has been hit by a massive exodus of staff and resignation of others from positions of responsibility.

Those who have left in a huff (on their own intention rather than normal transfer) to other institutions include the head of the industrial liaison office Ms Anne Kithinji, the registrar Mr Patrick Ntiba, Deputy Registrar Ms Stellah Njagi, and the head Department of Applied Science Mr Amin Noor.

Those who have resigned from their positions of responsibilities in a huff include Mr Duncan Owino, head of Department of Medical Sciences together with his deputy Mr David Jaoko and the head of the department of Buiding Engineering Mr Josam Mwaoda.

Others include four lecturers from the Department of Business namely Ms Hanifa Tamin, Mr Benjamin Kinyoda, Ms Wangari Waite and Ms Sarah Okumu, among others. Yet another four Council-hired lecturers in the Department of Languages and Secretarial have also resigned in one day citing “slavery” by the administration.

The tutors who are languishing in poverty denied claims that the institution had no money.  They for instance questioned the KCNP rationale of spending shs 150,000 per month on leased photocopier whereas the tutors still lack basics like marker pens, flip charts and foolscaps.

Some workers also question why the polite and efficient Principal in charge of administration and finance Mr Show Kalama is sidelined in the Recruitment of Council Trainers yet that is technically his portfolio.

KCNP currently has a student population of 7,000 and out of the required 300 tutors, those paid by the PSC are mere 130 while the rest are Council-hired trainers.

About the author

Karecha Kamaris

Karecha Kamaris is the space between earth and heaven, the gap between ice and fire, the elementary molecule that justifies unending peace in the sea of turmoil. An 'appetite for adventure over the love of ease'.

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