Vetting of TSC nominee raises many queries on selection criteria

What you need to know:

  • Ms Ali’s appointment was recommended to President Uhuru Kenyatta even with the glaring shortcomings and failure to submit the required documents.
  • National Assembly Education Committee vice-chairman Amos Kimunya said Ms Ali does not have the experience required for a TSC commissioner.

The vetting of a nominee for the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) by the National Assembly’s Committee on Education last week has once again laid bare the failure by appointing authorities to carry out due diligence on candidates.

Ms Leila Abdi Ali, who has been nominated as commissioner with the TSC, could not produce her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination certificates though she was recommended by the selection panel that included career educationist John Munene of Zetech University.

Ms Ali told lawmakers that she studied at a university in the United Kingdom.

Members of the committee demanded to be told how the selection panel recommended Ms Ali’s appointment to President Uhuru Kenyatta even with the glaring shortcomings and failure to submit the required documents.

Ms Ali also had issues with citizenship.

She told the committed that she was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, but was raised in Kajiado County.

She added that she holds British citizenship.

Committee chairman Julius Melly said MPs would seek advice from the Ministry of Interior on the citizen conundrum.

National Assembly Education Committee vice-chairman Amos Kimunya said Ms Ali does not have the experience required for a TSC commissioner.

According to the advert by the selection panel, candidates for the position were required to be Kenyan citizens with a degree from a recognised university.

The hopeful was also required to have knowledge and experience of at least 10 years in matters relating to education, governance, management or law and meet the requirements of Chapter Six of the Constitution.

The appointment also exposes the behind-the-scenes politics in the recruitment of top government officers, raising concerns about the credibility of selection teams.

Last year, National Land Commission (NLC) member-nominee Kazungu Kambi was at pains to explain how he acquired his first degree from the University of Eastern Africa, Baraton, though he had not scored at least a C+ in the KCSE examination, the minimum requirement for one to join a university in Kenya.

Mr Kambi, who graduated in 2015, proceeded to get a master’s degree from the same university in 2018 and is now studying for a doctoral degree in finance at Maseno University.

The former Labour Cabinet secretary, who said he scored a C- in his KCSE examination, joined university in 2011 after sitting a mature-age entry examination, which he said is similar to a bridging course.

According to Baraton University, the test is for people aged 25 and above who sat the Form Four examination but failed to score C+ and above.

The tests are for individuals wishing to study courses related to business, humanities and social sciences, management, accounting, marketing, information technology, theology, music, languages and development studies.

While being vetted for the position of NLC member, Mr Kambi’s academic qualifications were questioned by three Orange Democratic Movement party lawmakers from the Coast region.

The former Cabinet secretary provided documents showing he went to school. But he told the panel that he had lost his KCSE examination certificate.

In 2017, the Commission for University Education (CUE) stopped the admission of students to various degree programmes who have sat bridging examinations, citing abuse by university administrators.

“Admissions should comply with the university standards and guidelines,” the commission said in a statement.

In 2015, the then Inspector-General of Police Joseph Kipchirchir Boinnet was taken to task over his bachelor’s degree.

That was after CUE said the institution where Mr Boinnet claimed to have studied was not accredited.

CUE said Washington International University, where Mr Boinnet said he earned his first degree, was not recognised by America’s Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the Distance Education and Training Council.

Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi has also been taken to court over “forged” academic certificates.

Mr Sudi failed to stop his prosecution last year.

The High Court and the Court of Appeal declined to stop the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) from investigating the lawmaker, saying he should carry his own cross at the Anti-Corruption Court.

In October 2016, the MP was charged with three counts of presenting forged academic certificates when he sought clearance from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to contest in the March 4, 2013 General Election.

Prosecutors said Mr Sudi forged his diploma in business management, reportedly issued by Kenya Institute of Management, as well as KCSE papers apparently issued by Highway Secondary School in Nairobi.

He was also charged with giving false information to the electoral agency and misleading EACC officials investigating him.

Taita-Taveta Governor Granton Samboja faces a similar case.

The EACC accuses Mr Samboja of having a certificate that has since been denounced by Kenyatta University.

The university says the governor has never been its student.

The Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA) is setting up a database that will have information on graduates in all levels of education.

This is due to the increased use of fake degrees and diplomas in securing employment in an economy reeling with joblessness.

KNQA chief executive Juma Mukhwana said the measures are aimed at protecting the credibility of certificates that graduates are awarded by learning institutions.

“We will have a registry for disciplines and qualifications. The learning institutions will have two years to comply,” Dr Mukhwana told the Sunday Nation.

He added that the authority has written to universities and colleges not to admit students with foreign certificates unless they are equated by the authority.

“Those looking for employment should also seek the equation of their degrees and diplomas,” Dr Mukhwana said.

CUE chief executive Mwenda Ntarangwi said higher learning institutions should ensure only qualified people are admitted.

“Universities should set up academic admission requirements for programmes on offer in line with national and international trends,” Prof Ntarangwi said.