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Riots force closure of two more varsities

Two more public universities have been hut indefinitely following student protests that disrupted learning at the institutions.

Police were called in on Tuesday to disperse Laikipia University students, who were protesting against courses they claimed were not registered and their Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology counterparts, who were demanding that their colleagues who had not paid tuition fees be allowed to sit their examinations.

The unrest followed the closure of the University of Nairobi last week following chaotic student union elections, which left several students injured after clashes with police.

In Laikipia, the students blocked the busy Nakuru-Nyahururu highway at Karuga shopping centre, claiming those studying bio-chemistry and bio-medicine science courses had not been registered by the Kenya Medical Laboratory Technology Commission on University Education.

They accused the administration of dishonouring a promise to have the courses accredited.

“It is too late now for the administration to have these courses accredited because even if they are today, more than 300 students will have to go back to class four more years before they can graduate,” said fourth year student James Njogu.

Ms Mary Wanjira, a third year student, said they had tried to engage the management on the issue without success.

Vice-Chancellor Francis Lelo, however, told the Nation the students were demanding a new programme, which could only be introduced after a year.


“This has got nothing to do with registration and recognition of courses. What they are demanding is a new programme,” he said.

“They stormed out of a meeting we had called to discuss the matter and later started throwing stones, destroying window panes and school bus windows. This prompted us to close the institution.”

At Masinde Muliro University, the students protested a decision to bar some of their colleagues from sitting examinations because they had not paid tuition fees in full.

They disrupted learning as they protested along the corridors, prompting the university to shut down the institution, fearing damage to property.

Angered by the decision to send them home, the protesting students converged on the graduation grounds where they were dispersed by police who lobbed tear gas canisters at them.

The chairperson of the students’ council, Ms Winnie Opiyo, said they had held six meetings with the management over the issue but failed to reach an agreement.

She said the university should have allowed the students with outstanding balances to sit the examinations and pay later, adding that only 88 in a class of 300 had paid up.

The Academic Affairs registrar, Dr Carolyne Onyancha, however, said the protests were sparked by a decision by the university to discontinue 31 students for a period of between one and three years for being involved in  examination malpractices.

The Vice-Chancellor, Prof Frederick Otieno ,was reported to be away attending a meeting in Webuye.

Separately, Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i termed the wave of unrest in universities and secondary schools as unwarranted.

Speaking at the Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi, during the Kenya Secondary Schools Student Leaders’ conference, Dr Matiang’i advised the students to learn to solve their issues amicably and without having to resort to violence.

Reported by Ouma Wanzala, Benson Amadala and Steve Njuguna