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Matiang’i accused of ‘denying’ Atwoli varsity degree

The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Secretary-General Wilson Sossion is pointing an accusing finger at Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i after a local university rescinded its decision to award veteran trade unionist Francis Atwoli an honorary degree.

Mr Atwoli was due to receive the Doctorate in Labour Relations degree  from Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology on Friday, during the university’s 12th annual graduation ceremony, in recognition of his role as head of the labour movement in Kenya.

The university did not indicate its reasons for reversing its decision, but Mr Sossion claims the CS asked the university senate to cancel the award for unknown reasons.

He said that contradicted the CS’s role as the head of the Education ministry, which is to protect the autonomy of learning institutions in Kenya.


The Knut boss claimed that the CS had on several occasions called on institutions of higher learning to operate independently without interference.

“The decision taken by your office (constitutes) outright interference (with) the management of institutions of higher learning,” said Mr Sossion in a letter dated December 8 to the CS.

“Documents are in the public domain indicating that the university followed due process in arriving at the decision to confer Mr Atwoli the degree,” said Mr Sossion.

He added: “It is really disturbing for the Ministry of Education, which is charged with the responsibility of protecting educational institutions’ (right) to operate independently, to interfere with the day-to-day running of universities.

“I post my disappointment at the move taken by (CS Matiang’i) to cancel the scheduled conferment of the award to Mr Atwoli. In the same breath, I join other Kenyans… to demand… that Mr Atwoli be honoured as approved by the university council and senate come December 15.”


Mr Atwoli also expressed his surprise at the news.

Speaking at a fundraiser at the Eshimbi ACK Church in Butere, Kakamega County, on Sunday, he said: “The university senate decided to pick me for the award.

“I was excited when I received the communication but the university has been forced to cancel the plan.”

Mr Sossion appealed to the university management not to give in to political pressure or “external forces” out to “frustrate the independence of the university council and senate”.

On Monday, Dr Matiang’i could not be reached for a comment.