Report: Six communities hold nearly three quarters of all jobs in public universities, colleges

President Uhuru Kenyatta (centre, sitting) with vice-chancellors of public and private universities and other officials at State House in Nairobi on August 16, 2016. PHOTO

What you need to know:

  • Members of Kikuyu, Luo, Luhya, Kalenjin, Kisii and Kamba communities occupy 70.8 per cent of all jobs available in the higher learning institutions.
  • There are 28,935 jobs in 22 public universities and nine constituent colleges.

Six ethnic communities are hogging nearly three quarters of all jobs in the country’s 31 public universities and colleges, according to a new government survey handed to President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday.

The six communities – Kikuyu, Luo, Luhya, Kalenjin, Kisii and Kamba – occupy 70.8 per cent of all jobs available in the higher learning institutions, providing a skewed picture that does not reflect the national face as required by the Constitution.

In total, there are 28,935 jobs in 22 public universities and nine constituent colleges.

This means the six communities are sharing 20,485 slots in the universities leaving the rest to occupy only 8,449. There are 42 communities listed in the report.

The statistics are contained in the draft Ethnic and Diversity Audit of Public Universities in Kenya report dated August 2016.

According to the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) study, the largest ethnic group recruited in the service of the institutions is the Kikuyu, which forms 23.6 per cent.

In absolute figures, there are 7,050 Kikuyu employees in the institutions compared with the least represented community, Burji, which has only one staffer.

The report notes that communities such as the Turkana, Maasai, Kenyan Somali, Kamba and Mijikenda were among those that were under- represented compared to their total population.

Instead, the six dominant communities have taken nearly 10 per cent more jobs than what they should legitimately be keeping.

“This severs opportunities to enhance the face of Kenya in these institutions thus excluding the other ethnic communities,” the report says of these glaring disparities.

Universities, being the cradle of knowledge, have for long been viewed as the best expression of nationalism as administrators are the best academicians expected to shun the tribal bigotry that has often threatened to tear the country apart.


But the latest findings are likely to also pour cold water on the many campaigns that have been put in place to reduce disparities in employment, some of which have been caused by unfair recruitment policies of successive regimes.

According to the National Cohesion and Integration Act 2012, no community should hold more than 33.3 per cent of jobs in any one institution.

But according to the survey, the second for universities and constituent colleges after the first one conducted in 2012, only five institutions have complied with the law. Of the older universities, only University of Nairobi and Egerton University are living within the law.

The report commends the University of Nairobi for moving from the dark side of contravening the law based on the 2012 report to the brighter region this year when only the community with the highest number of jobs, Kikuyu, holds 30 per cent of the places. Although Egerton University is still playing in the desirable league as it was in 2012, it slid a few points towards contravention.

The institution that is contravening the law most in the ranking was Kirinyaga University College where the dominant community, Kikuyu, occupies 82.7 per cent of all the 226 jobs.

The NCIC chairman Francis Kaparo, while releasing the report, was specifically angered by the performance of Kabianga University College which sank deeper into contravention by letting the Kalenjin community to grow 10 per cent more jobs in the last four years.

In 2012, the Kalenjin community in Kabianga held 58.1 per cent of the jobs, which expanded to 68.8 per cent according to the latest report.

Mr Kaparo told Vice-Chancellors (VCs) and Principals to their face at a meeting before President Kenyatta on Tuesday that more than 80 per cent of their institutions were not complying with the law.

He suggested that those that were contravening the law be denied public funding.


Largely, the report showed that universities were more likely to draw the largest number of employees from either the communities where they were located or from the ethnic community of their VCs or principals.

For example, in Kisii University that is located within Kisii County, the VC is a Kisii and the majority of the employees were Kisii.

The case was the same in Dedan Kimathi University in Nyeri County where the majority of staff were Kikuyu. The VC is a Kikuyu and the university is in Kikuyuland.

Other areas cited for same scenario include Moi University in Eldoret, Chuka, Kabianga and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.

The report also notes that the universities lacked strong gender representation at the management level.

“This calls for a review of the internal policies or practices towards encouraging women in leadership,” the report says.

It notes that only two females head universities in the institutions under study.

The study also noted that people from certain communities were more likely to have higher academic qualifications that others, meaning that there were likely to be differences in the jobs they could land.

Findings of the report also show that universities and colleges that had appointed VCs and principals from communities that are not dominant in the regions where the institutions are based had already improved their ranking in terms of ethnic balancing of the jobs.

Such institutions that had appointed chiefs from communities that were not “dominant” only for them to improve in rankings included Multi-Media University, Egerton, Maasai Mara, Masinde Muliro and University of Eldoret.

The study undertook a survey of all the 22 public universities and their nine constituent colleges.

A questionnaire was shared with each individual university to provide specific details of all their employees, which were then analysed to produce the report.


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