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Saturday, May 5th, 2018

 

JUST BRENDA: I'm in love with my boss

By JUST BRENDA
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Hi Brenda. I’m in love with my boss and I don’t know what to do.

She is the head of department and I came in as an intern. She mentored me and eventually recommended me for a permanent job.

I’ve always had a crush on her and I thought I would outgrow it but a year later, I feel I have to ask her out so that I can settle down because right now I can’t focus well as long as she is around….what do I do?

This is a terrible idea. I’m surprised your feelings have persisted this long, and so might actually be something more than a crush, but you really can’t act on them.

First of all, this infatuation needs to stop! You don’t engage with her on anything other than a professional level, so what exactly are you in love with?

Confessing your feelings will only ruin your workplace environment.

Most HR policies don’t approve of in-house relationships. You might as well quit your job and ask her out – because anything other than that is a prime set-up for a sexual harassment case.


Rise of Kenya’s sacco model in diaspora and its impact on development

By CHRIS WAMALWA
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in DELAWARE, USA

Even though savings and credit societies in Kenya have for a long time, been among the leading sources of co-operative credit, this movement was largely absent within the Kenyan diaspora community until recently.

This was in spite of the fact that Kenyans living abroad are among a section of the Kenyan community that has some disposable income that they wished to invest at home. In the last two decades, Kenyans living abroad have been investing heavily at home, especially in real estate.

“One of the priorities for many Kenyans living abroad is to invest back home especially in real estate. Even though most of us are successful here in diaspora, we harbour the dream of retiring back home that’s why we each desire to build retirement home back in Kenya,” said Maryanne Kamau-Goetz, the Secretary-General of Kenya North America Diaspora Sacco (K-NADS).   

Kamau-Goetz, a founder member of the recently launched K-NADS, a sacco that is strictly for women living in North America and diaspora returnees, says that one of the best things that has happened recently that will spur investments in Kenya is the registration of saccos targeting the diaspora.

REGISTERED SACCOS

“K-NADS started registering members last year and by the time we were holding our first Annual General Meeting in Los Angeles in March, our membership stood at close to 800,” she said.

 But, though one of the fast growing Saccos in diaspora, K-NADS is by no means the only sacco that is registered in the diaspora. According to estimates, there are close to ten registered Saccos – three in the US, one in the Middle East and several in Europe.

In 2012, the first diaspora Sacco, the Kenya USA Diaspora Sacco was registered after long and protracted negotiations with the Kenya government, an entity that has always been slow at recognizing and understanding the needs of the Diaspora.

Kenya North America Diaspora SaccoKenya North America Diaspora Sacco members during the sacco’s Annual General Meeting in Los Angeles, California, on March 25, 2018. PHOTO | CHRIS WAMALWA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

 “The Kenya USA Sacco was born out of needs and circumstances that Kenyans in the USA encountered including, the inability to borrow locally (Kenya) due to stringent financial and cost prohibitive requirements by banks,” said Mr David Wanjiru, Treasurer, Kenya USA Diaspora Sacco.

 BORROWING

Mr Wanjiru says that, apart from unreasonable demands and requirements for borrowing by leading commercial banks in Kenya, members of the diaspora also complained incessantly about the fact that a good number of those who had tried to invest in Kenya had in fact been conned by relatives and friends back home.

 “Lack of unreliable means and mechanisms for investing money in Kenya and the limited control and accountability for individual’s investments and monies was also a very big impediment,” he said.

This in fact, is one impediment that Ms Kamau-Goetz understands very well because it’s what led to the birth of their sacco.

“Kenya women in diaspora have various formal and informal organized groups. Many ideas come out of these groups and are either transformed into social, economic, investment, or even non-profit groups. Other ideas die as early as they are formed. In July 2016, one a member came up with a challenge to the Kenyan women in diaspora to start investing together. Seven women took up the challenge and mobilised others to come up with the best way to make this challenge a reality,” she said.

CONFERENCE

Ms Kamau-Goetz says that the women held conference calls and many lengthy WhatsApp discussions with ladies from many different States including Canada sharing challenges they faced while trying to invest at home. “It was clear that many of us Kenyan Women living in the diaspora faced many similar challenges as we try to invest our hard-earned money in Kenya,” she added.

Ms Kamau-Goetz says that some the challenges the women faced in trying to invest at home were such as purchasing of property and acquiring of loans.

“Most members said that they were having challenges purchasing properties through relatives as they got swindled and lost their hard-earned dollars,” she said.

She added that other members had indicated that even though they held bank accounts with banks in Kenya, they were being denied loans on the pretext that they lacked income or collateral in Kenya despite their being gainfully employment in the US. Ms Kamau-Goetz said that single women, either due to divorce or the death of a spouse particularly faced unique challenges while to invest in Kenya.  

She added that there was a big population of unbanked elderly Kenyans women in the diaspora. These are women who have come to help take care of their grandchildren and end up being nannies to the community children. They do not have ways to bank money in the US for instance so they remit it to Kenya through relatives. She says that, many of them have lost their savings through relatives or unscrupulous investors they have entrusted with their monies. 

On the other hand, Mr Wanjiru says that since 2012, the USA Diaspora Sacco has taken tremendous strides in supporting members with their development and investment needs in Kenya. “From occasional needs to long-term goals, the Sacco products have been designed to meet their unique needs, promoting their financial well-being, while helping with nation building,” he said. 

He says that since then, the sacco has provided the membership with access to various investments including the most recent undertaking – the Fadhili Homes Project located on Kangundo Road, Nairobi. 

CONSTRUCTION

It comprises 240 home units currently in various construction stages, with 67 already bought by the members. The project has been fully funded by the sacco with a disbursement of Sh90 million.

In 2015/2016, the sacco initiated its first real estate property project (still active) at Isinya Konza, where members bought over 250 land plots.

The sacco has an office based in Nairobi that support the membership at large.  In addition, the Sacco provides for electronic online services that assist the members with managing their account finances and investment decisions in Kenya. The Sacco membership currently stands at about 1,500 and has been growing steadily over the course last few years. 


Oparanya: I am now ready for higher office

By SUNDAY NATION TEAM
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In this interactive series, we invite our readers to send in questions to selected public figures. Answers will be published in the next print and online editions. This week, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya responds to your questions

1. What is your view on the handshake between ODM leader Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta? Should Mr Odinga have consulted first before agreeing to meet President Kenyatta, bearing in mind that just months earlier the police, who are under the President’s command, were accused of killing Opposition supporters? J Odeny, Vihiga

We support the handshake. It has brought stability in this country and given us a chance to focus on development. The handshake involved two leaders who did not need permission from anyone to seal a deal. The best we can do is to embrace the outcome instead of questioning the handshake.

2. You have declared your interest in running for the presidency in 2022. But Kakamega County is notorious for receiving adverse reports from the Office of the Auditor-General. In your first term, for example, the Kakamega procurement offices were broken into, and computers and other documents carted away. CCTV cameras allegedly captured your aide overseeing the exercise. You also failed to appear before the Senate to answer audit questions and, instead, took refuge in court. This is not a history that can help your presidential quest, is it? Farouk Machanje, Kakamega

The Office of the Auditor-General is a constitutional office and its primary function is to examine public accounts and raise questions as necessary. Raising a question does not necessarily mean that public funds have been lost or misused. More often than not, the questions arise from non-availability of documents and/or information to support specific expenditure. Accounting officers in Kakamega County are obliged to provide any such information whenever they are required to do so. The loss of computers cited here arose from a theft. Following investigations, security agencies arrested suspects whom they arraigned in court. The case is currently before a Kakamega court and hence can’t be discussed here. If you have concrete evidence, please bring forth such to the court or contact the county’s attorney. None of my aides was involved in the theft as alleged and those who made the claims are facing defamation charges. Governors are not accounting officers at the county. My refusal to obey summons from the Senate committee and the Council of Governors’ subsequent decision to seek interpretation of the law by the court was informed by a desire to follow the provisions of the Public Finance Management Act. I am glad I was finally vindicated and justice prevailed.

3. As deputy leader of ODM, you have lately taken a low profile on party matters and, instead, your body language and some of your remarks have left some wondering if you are warming up to Jubilee, especially Deputy President William Ruto. Could you clear the air so that we know your political position? Tom Waswa, Kakamega

Internal party engagements are not a public affair. Why should I warm up to the Deputy President and not vice versa? Remember, Mr William Ruto is the Deputy President and therefore as a governor, I need at the moment to work with him closely for the benefit of my people. Otherwise, come 2022, we will be competitors.

4. How was Kakamega picked from the lot of 47 counties to host the recent devolution conference? What financial benefits did the county accrue from hosting the conference? Francis Njuguna, Kibichoi

This was purely a Council of Governors’ decision made in my absence. But when I learned of it, I agreed to host the conference. It came as a pleasant surprise to us and we thank the council for the decision because having over 6,000 delegates assembled in a small town like Kakamega comes with huge benefits. The hospitality industry for the entire western region reaped big from the event. Hoteliers from the region formed a consortium to provide meals and refreshments for the visiting dignitaries and most facilities were fully booked; the transport industry equally cashed in on the windfall; small traders and farmers found ready market for their wares and fresh produce among other benefits. More importantly, the residents had first-hand experience on the key issues under focus by the county and national governments.

5. You started so well by recognising and funding infrastructure gaps in secondary schools in the county. What suddenly informed your decision to withdraw, even without warning, from this timely action in promoting education? What became of the timely and handy bursaries to needy students? Be that as it may, is your government available to listen to any special case presented for affirmative action? Kombwayo Silas, Matungu

The shift has been necessitated by changes in the Constituency Development Fund Act. We have now reallocated the funds to development of nursery education  programmes and facilities. There has also been a need to avoid duplication of efforts by the national government. My administration is always willing and ready to listen to the citizens on all matters pertaining to development including their affirmative agenda.

6. Devolution is about giving power to the people by bringing services and opportunities closer to them. What is your administration doing to uplift the lives of the youth in Mumias West Sub-County, a majority of whom are jobless? Kamau Beka, Mumias

My administration is committed to putting in place policies as well as legal and institutional frameworks that are geared towards building and sustaining a vibrant and diversified economy that is amenable to job and wealth creation. All youth from Kakamega’s 12 sub-counties, including Mumias West, are targeted. We have finalised plans to establish a micro-finance corporation to take over the activities of ‘Mikopo Mashinani’ initiative to ensure young people have access to affordable credit to start small businesses. We are also keen to attract investments into our county and the Lake Region Economic Bloc to boost job creation. Our priorities lie in the establishment of agri-based industries, diversified agricultural production and strengthening vocational and technical training to enable the youth to get jobs. We will introduce a County Youth Service that will be responsible for the implementation of projects in sub-counties, wards and villages. During my first term, we recruited and trained hundreds of enforcement officers and ‘Kazi Mashinani’ guards in each of the county’s 60 wards. We also came up with programmes to support jua kali artisans and boda boda riders.

7. As minister for Planning, you were in charge of the census in 2009. Was there a government policy then to downplay the exact numbers of certain communities for political and economic reasons? James Kamau

There was no such a policy. Census is an important tool in ensuring good governance in planning and resource allocation. Therefore, tampering with the process is unacceptable for nations that aspire to maintain just, open and democratic societies. In the last census, where we suspected that figures were not corresponding to projected trends, Kenya National Bureau of Statistics used a projection tool to estimate population increases across time in the affected regions. This was contested by certain communities which resulted in court proceedings that ended up reinstating figures reported in the census report. An appeal was made and the matter is still pending in court.

8. Kakamega is a county that experiences favourable climate that has led to farmers getting good harvests. But we lack agri-based industries in the county. For instance, Lugari and Likuyani sub-counties are large scale maize producers. Why can’t your administration set up a maize milling plant here? Farmers have to sell their maize at throwaway prices to middlemen who reap big time by selling maize to Eldoret-based grain millers. Oliver Hyuga, Lumakanda

According to our County Integrated Development Plan, Kakamega is tasked with creating an enabling environment for investment. As it stands today, we have not succeeded in getting investors on board. However, plans are underway to establish a maize milling plant in Lugari during the second term. I am in total agreement that the two sub-counties are Kakamega’s grain baskets and it is in order that the farmers are facilitated to market their produce.

9. Governor, you are doing a good job in health. Keep it up. But why do governors insist on losing billions of taxpayers’ money on buying medicine from the private pharmacies at prices higher than those of the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa) or the Mission For Essential Drugs and Supplies ? What can be done to ensure people get value for money on drugs regardless of how corrupt a governor is? Dr Mwenda Nicholas, Medical Officer of Health, Tana River

I am not aware how procurement of drugs is done in other counties but my county procures drugs from Kemsa with whom we have a signed an agreement.

10. Recently, debate about the viability of counties and their impact on the economy has been raging. What is your position on reducing the number of counties to 14 as some have suggested? Moses Githinji, Nairobi.

I fully agree to this regionalisation to strengthen devolution and formation of economic blocs as we are doing in the lake region so as to enjoy economies of scale. However, any envisaged re-organisation should leave the counties as they are in their current form.

11. The Senate summoned you to appear before it to respond to audit questions raised by the Auditor-General and you ignored it. Don’t you feel your actions are a violation of the law? Andrew Ratemo, Malindi

As I have stated above, the law does not require appearance of governors before the Senate committee. Furthermore, the county executive is answerable to the assembly on matters to do with financial accountability.

12. A number of students who have emerged best in primary and secondary school exams in Kakamega have been fully or partially sponsored as a form of appreciation for working hard. My concern is on higher education, more so in university, who graduate with First Class honours. What is your plan for them? Osundwa Kassim, Kakamega.

I am not aware of the existence of such students. I only remember one such high performer who approached us and we offered her a job.

13. According to government information, the Matunda-Tongaren-Naitiri road is recorded as tarmacked. This, however, is not true as the plan to tarmac it was not done because of alleged embezzlement of funds by a former MP few years back. What is your administration doing about this road? Gasire Ayere, Kakamega

This is a national road and hence outside the responsibility of the county government.

14. In four years and some months from now, many governors who have served their two terms will be out of office, including you. What will you be doing after that? In your view, how best can Kenyans make use of retiring governors? David Musyoka, Kitui

Governors have their unique capabilities, aspirations and ambitions. They are not any different from other leaders in different capacities. They, therefore, do not necessarily have to aspire to play an active role in the Executive. However, based on their rich experience and familiarity with their regions of governance, they would form a rich pool of advisers that both county and national governments could tap into. Personally, my ambition for presidency in 2022 is in the public domain and is driven by my record.

This would include consultation with the private sector as well as with the civil society and international development partners.

I have been an MP for Butere for two terms and a minister for Planning and Vision 2030 in the national unity government of retired President Mwai Kibaki in 2007-2012. I am one of the key architects of Vision 2030 that Kenya is committed to today and whose implementation is ongoing.

Following the promulgation of the new Constitution in 2010, I was overwhelmingly elected governor of Kakamega County in 2012 and re-elected in 2017. Logically, I am now ripe for a higher office.


ODM top organ to meet as party pushes for change of constitution

By IBRAHIM ORUKO
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By JUSTUS WANGA
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Opposition leader Raila Odinga has summoned his party’s top organ to a meeting on Tuesday to rally support for radical proposals to restructure the Executive.

The meeting, to take place in Naivasha, will focus on pushing for the re-introduction of the parliamentary system of government and a three-tier devolved structure that could lead to the creation of 14 regional governments.

Mr Odinga is expected to update the Orange Democratic Movement’s National Executive Council (NEC) on the next steps to be taken after the March 9 handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta and seek support for the nine-point agenda agreed upon by the two leaders as part of the Building Bridges to a New Kenya Initiative.

Also on the cards, party insiders told the Nation, is a possibility of Mr Odinga’s Orange party building new coalitions with current and emerging political parties in readiness for political battles on the proposals to amend the constitution. ODM is a key member of the National Super Alliance that also includes Mr Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper, Mr Musalia Mudavadi’s ANC and Ford Kenya of Mr Moses Wetang’ula.

The opposition alliance has been at odds after Mr Odinga struck a deal with President Kenyatta without consulting the other principals.  

The ODM meeting will also discuss plans for Mr Odinga and President Kenyatta to launch countrywide tours to seek support for the nine-point agenda.

“Rallying the party behind Uhuru’s Big Four agenda and ensuring that the plan is aligned to devolution will also form the core of the Naivasha talks,” said our source, who spoke in confidence.

On Saturday, Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna confirmed the meeting will take place as per the resolutions of the ODM Central Management Committee meeting on Friday under the chairmanship of Mr Odinga as part of the efforts to strengthen the party after last year’s General Election.

“The central management committee resolved many things on Friday, one of which is that we hold a NEC meeting to strengthen the party,” said Mr Sifuna, noting that the meeting is part of a series of events that have been planned for the next few months.

BRANCH VISITS

“After the NEC meeting we shall embark on branch visits to explain to the rank and file the meaning of the handshake and what it means for our party and what we expect of it. The idea is to have coherence in our messaging because failure in that regard will lead to many interpretations which may damage our party.”

During the Friday meeting, Mr Odinga told the committee that time has come for the country to amend the Constitution with a view to re-designing the Executive to ensure peace and equitable development and openly pushed for a parliamentary system of government. Debate on the changes has sharply divided various political camps with some viewing it as a plot to derail Deputy President William Ruto’s 2022 presidential bid.

Mr Odinga argues that the presidential executive system has been the cause of many problems, including the dominance of a handful of ethnic groups and the marginalisation of others. He points out that the Bomas Draft — in reference to the 2005 Constitution-making process whose proposals were thrown out in a referendum — made it clear that the governing authority over the entire country should not be under one person, the President.

PRESIDENCY

He argues that the presidency gives the holder of the office enormous power and authority to dispense favours to particular individuals or groups which undermines the principle of equality and equity, and equal treatment of all.

“Of what value is a powerful office if its pursuit must cost lives and tear the country apart every five years?” he asks, adding: “The Bible tells us, in the book of Mathew 5.19, that if your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away.” 

“It is better for you to lose one part of the body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. I believe it is time to gather the courage and gouge out this problematic institution from our system, lest it lead us into the abyss,” he goes on.

Mr Odinga blames the presidential system for entrenched tribalism, exclusion, centralisation of power and system of political patronage, arguing that monopoly of national power tends to weaken devolution.

“It is most likely that only a member of a large tribe is likely to have any prospect of being elected  president. Often deals will be made between leaders of two major tribes for mutual support which, if adhered to, could keep others out of power for 20 years!”

PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM

He notes that under a parliamentary system, the power in the national executive is exercised by ministers drawn from the majority party in the National Assembly.

“If no party has a majority, the largest party has the option of forming the government if it can form it with members of another party, a form of power sharing.  Each minister is in a sense responsible both to the cabinet and to parliament,’ he states.

Mr Odinga argues that under the Bomas model, a special role was given to the President, that of promoting national unity and respect for the diversity of the people and communities of Kenya.

The President was also charged with the responsibility of upholding and safeguarding the Constitution besides ensuring the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, said Mr Odinga.

“This would, to some extent, modify the authority of the Prime Minister in respect of issues of special concern in multi-ethnic states,’ he states. 

The opposition chief further argues that under the parliamentary system, there is continuing accountability of the executive to the legislature and, through them, to the public.

“Its members sit in the national legislature and have to answer questions put to them by other members.”

PRIME MINISTER

He says it is much easier to remove the prime minister or other ministers, or at least censure them, at any time if there is significant dissatisfaction with the government.

The former Prime Minister further adds that the system offers opposition MPs an important role to play in parliament by checking against excesses committed by ministers.

He says that under the system, the opposition will appoint shadow ministers to follow and question policies and conduct of particular ministers.

“In case of major dissatisfaction with the government, it can be replaced by a vote of no-confidence (passed with the support of the opposition and usually some disenchanted members of the government party or minority parties) by the opposition or the government dissolved which opens the space for new elections. In a presidential system, it is much harder to remove the head of government,” Mr Odinga argues.

He adds: “If, as is often the case, the members of the opposition are active in parliament, it is easier for the people to follow the policies and acts of the government than under the executive presidency. At least this has been the Kenya experience; in the US the opposition are fairly alert because the US Congress takes seriously its role as a separate arm of government.”

POWER SHARING

Mr Odinga says the parliamentary system is likely to promote the sharing of power between different parties. The fight for the presidency, which starts immediately after the victory of a candidate, will give way to activities of parliament and so national development. 

And speaking during the Wiper party National Executive Committee-cum-Parliamentary Group meeting in Naivasha on Saturday, its leader Kalonzo Musyoka supported calls for a review of the constitution.

However, he called for sobriety as the nation debates the 2010 Constitution with a view to amending some sections.

“If we end up with a non-contested referendum it would be better for this country. The current divisions started during the 2005 and 2010 referendums,” he said.

BENEFICIARIES

Without naming names, Mr Musyoka said it was unfortunate that those who rejected the current constitution ended up being the biggest beneficiaries.

“We support the review of the constitution because this document is not static. It is a living document and must respond to political situations and challenges facing any nation at any given time,” added the Wiper leader.

He said the Bomas Draft Constitution should be adopted to end the current stalemate.

“The Bomas draft, if given a proper look, will guide us to an all-inclusive document that will strengthen devolution and unite Kenyans,” he said.


Starehe Boys Centre in crisis as donor aid dries up

By KENNEDY KIMANTHI
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Any troubles at the once premiere high school in Kenya, Starehe Boys Centre, usually jolts the entire education fraternity.

And that was the case earlier this week when it emerged that the institution is grappling with a financial crisis that threatens to affect the learning of more than 600 students.

The school has 860 students depending on the support of sponsors and the Nation has learnt that 613 of them could lose out on their education.

Of the approximately 1,000 boys, 70 per cent rely on Starehe for food, accommodation, health and educational needs. The rest pay fees.

The institution’s acting director Josphat Mwaura said they require about Sh150 million  to run the facility. Out of that amount, the alumni of the institution under the Old Starehean Society (OSS) has raised Sh25 million.

“We have no reason to believe that their education will be disrupted,” Mr Mwaura told Sunday Nation when asked the worst that could happen if no financial help comes along.

 “The world has never failed us. Even now we believe it won’t fail us. We have proven that any boy can be taken from any corner of the country and be transformed through proper character to be a capable person in the society.”

Founded in 1959 by the late Dr Geoffrey Griffin, who died on June 28, 2005 at the age of 72, and other two co-founders, Geoffrey Geturo and Joseph Gikubu (both who have died), Starehe is a charitable institution that provides care and education for boys in need.

Admission to the school is a rigorous process that aims at ensuring only the most deserving students are get in.

The school declined the order for a day stream at the institution earlier this year, with the management saying it was not ready for the culture shock. They reportedly did not want to rattle the founder any more than they have done, with standards plummeting since his death.

Mr Mwaura said each of the sponsored students requires approximately Sh140,000 for fees and other requirements annually.

“This year alone we require about Sh85 million for the learners who do not have sponsors,” Mr Mwaura said.

The financial crisis has brought to light the perceived short-sightedness of the management over sustainability of the funding because of donor fatigue and their change of priorities over the last four years.

In fact, the OSS has been one of the biggest donors after donor funding dwindled.

The school says the Griffin Memorial Endowment Trust Fund was established by the Managing Committee to ensure that the future of Starehe is secured.

The new financing model would boost its revenue capacity from the funds’ investment to meet the costs of non-fee paying students and also cushion them from any risks that can be caused by declining sponsorship from donors.

DONOR FATIGUE

Youth Enterprise Development Fund chairperson Ronald Osumba, an alumni of the school, said they are contemplating restructuring the cost aspect of running the school.

“That is the cost of care for the boys, human resource and personnel and other logistics. We must be more efficient to secure the future of the learners,” Mr Osumba said, adding “No student has ever left for lack of fees and we don’t envisage such a situation. We want the best for those students.”

OSS secretary Muratha Kinuthia said donor fatigue set in when they least expected, adding that Starehe needs its alumni more than ever before.

“Given the successes we have achieved, it gives me confidence that no challenge is insurmountable.

“Starehe needs the old boys whose lives have been transformed from poverty to prosperity to give back to their alma mater,” Mr Kinuthia said.

BUILD CHARACTER

Another alumni, Mr Ken Miruka, who is the Executive Director at OSS, said the school’s main agenda is to build the character of the man than about his abilities.

The institution has been bedevilled with administrative challenges since the death of Dr Griffin.

In March, a section of employees went on a go-slow, temporarily disrupting operations at the school as they demanded better pay and improved working conditions.

The group mainly comprising non-teaching staff held a demonstration outside the school’s gate demanding action on their “long standing” grievances forcing representatives from the Ministry of Education and the sub county director of education to visit and hold closed-door meetings with the management seeking to end the crisis.


New headache as all-female gang strikes in Coast

By MOHAMED AHMED
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“I was coming from a church service when around 12 women armed with knives surrounded me and demanded money,” a pastor started.

“Perhaps because one of them was familiar, they beat me up and let me go after I surrendered all the money I had,” added the cleric who asked not to be named for his security.

The incident, according to the pastor, took place in Frere Town, one of the most dangerous parts of Mombasa, at around 10 pm a week ago.

The gang had earlier the same day pounced on a woman in the same area, and undressed her before beating her up.

That same week, the all-female gang had attacked two other residents who are still nursing injuries in a local hospital.

Local security officials have been accused of laxity in dealing with the gang. For instance, when the pastor reported the attack to a top security official in Mombasa County, he claimed he was warned not to talk to the media as this would only complicate matters. “Keep the media out of this matter please, it won’t help,” the pastor claimed to have been told.

The narrations from four victims fit the description of the latest gang in Mombasa – Wakware Babies – which operates in Bombolulu within the notorious Kisauni constituency.

The other gangs which operate in the county include Wakali Kwanza and Wakali Wao (Kisauni), Mawayo and Temeke (Mvita) and Chafu and Wajukuu wa Bibi from Likoni.

The knife-wielding gangs mainly target residents coming from Swahili weddings, which usually end late into the night.

Also not spared are mourners attending fundraising meetings to offset funeral expenses and  residents who leave work late in the night.

On April 19, for instance, members of two rival gangs from Old Town and Majengo turned against each other during a night street wedding, leaving several gang members nursing serious injuries.

Among those injured was a member of the Old Town gang identified as Adnan Salim and several wedding guests.

Senior security bosses at the Coast have differed over efforts to contain these gangs.

NIGHT WEDDINGS

This is after the Mombasa police commander Johnstone Ipara on April 22 banned night weddings following the rise in insecurity.

He further directed that the weddings be conducted in social halls and should not go beyond 11 pm.

“Anyone who will go beyond that time will also be arrested for violating the order,” warned Mr Ipara.

However, the directive did not go down well with Coast regional police boss Noah Mwivanda who a week later dismissed the ban as “a rumour”.

Speaking during a press briefing at the regional police headquarters in Mombasa, Mr Mwivanda said “he was not aware of any ban and, if there is any, then that is a rumour. Do not follow that one”.

He added that no one apart from him and regional coordinator Bernard Leparmarai had the authority to ban night movement.

“Night weddings can continue; we have no authority over such, ours is to provide security in the sense that the couple or their families should make sure that they notify the police before going about their ceremonies,” said Mr Mwivanda.

NIGHT MOVEMENT BAN

He added: “If there is any night movement ban, it is me and the regional coordinator to issue that ban or to instruct the DCC to issue the announcement.”

Mr Mwivanda also dismissed Mr Ipara’s directive that all weddings should be conducted in social halls. “We have no control over the venues and timings for the weddings. What we are saying is that do not just wake up and go to a wedding without informing the police for purposes of ensuring that we protect you,” he said.

Security sources who spoke to the Nation said: “There are issues going on but we cannot make conclusions at this time.”

Last year, Mombasa County Commissioner Evans Achoki banned night weddings without police protection following the rise in insecurity in the area.

And in 2016, former County Commissioner Maalim Mohamed ordered all wedding ceremonies to end by 10 pm.

Mr Mohamed, who is currently the Makueni Commissioner, directed that if more time was required, the police should be notified and a fee paid to provide armed police officers.

MAJOR OUTCRY

When Mr Ipara issued the ban last week, there was a major outcry from the public and lobbies.

Muslim for Human Rights (Muhuri), a non-governmental organisation, threatened to move to court to challenge the matter.

Muhuri chairman Khelef Khalifa asked the police to deal with the gangs instead of banning the weddings. “Security provision is the work of the police and not citizens. We will not allow a roadside declaration. Police should maintain law and order,” said Mr Khalifa.

Community leaders among them Muslim clerics have blamed parents for the emergence of the criminal gangs.

Speaking during last Friday’s prayer sermons at Masjid Musa in Majengo, Mombasa Sheikh Abu Qatadah said failure by parents to instill discipline in their children has resulted in the rise in crime.

Sheikh Qatadah called upon parents to admit that there is a problem if insecurity is to be successfully tackled in Mombasa.

CONFRONT PROBLEM

“As parents, we need to come out and confront the problem. It is now getting out of hand,” he said.

Between February and March at least 14 suspected gang members were killed by police.

In March alone, at least eight suspected members of the gangs were killed in Kisauni, Likoni and Nyali constituencies. Five of the suspected gang members were killed by police while three others were lynched by mobs. Wakali Kwanza and Wakali Wao, which are the two main gangs in Kisauni constituency, started off as soccer teams.

In 2016, the two gangs were known to target women, harassing them sexually whenever they failed to part with money. Mawayo and Temeke gangs mainly operate in Majengo and Old Town respectively.


Gusii governors, senators to skip leaders retreat

By RUTH MBULA
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Governors and senators from Kisii and Nyamira counties are set to skip the Gusii leaders retreat on Sunday morning following divisions among the leaders.

Last-minute attempts by Kisii deputy governor Joash Maangi to have the meeting postponed for at least two weeks to resolve differences were rejected by North Mugirango MP Joash Nyamoko.

Mr Maangi and Mr Nyamoko were charged with coordinating the retreat set for the Great Rift Valley Lodge in Naivasha, Nakuru County.

The over 30 elected leaders from the two counties and other parts of the country were expected to check in at the retreat last night ahead of the deliberations set to kick off on Sunday morning.

“As you already know, the two governors and senators will not be available for the Sunday meeting due to unavoidable circumstances. Let us kindly reschedule the meeting to a date when all will be available. Preferably in two weeks’ time. Kindly bear with us,” read a message from Mr Maangi to Mr Nyamoko.

Mr Maangi was charged with coordinating the governors and senators attending the retreat while Mr Nyamoko was coordinating the MPs.

Mr Maangi’s message was referring to Kisii governor James Ongwae and his Nyamira counterpart John Nyagarama as well as Kisii senator Sam Ongeri and his Nyamira counterpart Okong’o Omogeni.

The Sunday Nation also learnt that both Mr Maangi and the Nyamira deputy governor Amos Nyaribo would give the retreat a wide berth.

The official reason given for Mr Nyagarama’s absence was that both he and his son were indisposed. No reason was, however, given for Mr Ongwae’s and Prof Ongeri’s absence.

Mr Omogeni was said to have jetted into the country from an official trip to Cuba on Saturday morning and would therefore not make it for the retreat.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i, who was also invited, will not attend as he is in the United Kingdom checking on former minister Simeon Nyachae who is admitted in a London hospital.

“He left the country on Wednesday to see Mr Nyachae. But he gave us his blessings,” said Mr Nyamoko who insisted that the retreat will proceed notwithstanding the absence of the key leaders.

However, two nominated senators, Beatrice Kwamboka (ODM) and Millicent Omanga (Jubilee), are expected to attend the retreat.

SKIP EVENT

It is not clear if Woman Reps Janet Ong’era (Kisii) and Jerusha Momanyi (Nyamira) will be in attendance. A host of MPs from the two counties are expected to be present.

Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati and his Nakuru Town West counterpart Samuel Arama, though elected in Nairobi and Nakuru counties respectively, were also invited to the meeting.

Sources told the Nation that it is the invitation of Transport Chief Administrative Secretary Chris Obure and Solicitor-General Ken Ogeto that informed the decision by the governors and senators, all elected on an ODM ticket, to skip the event on grounds that Mr Nyamoko’s group had turned the event into a Jubilee affair.

Chief Justice David Maraga was also invited, with Mr Nyamoko maintaining optimism that he will attend the meeting as it is for the good of the community at large.

The governors were to bear the costs of the retreat but, with their withdrawal, those attending will now have to each pay for their expenses.

Mr Maangi told the Sunday Nation that the agenda of the meeting must be clear if the unity deal is to survive.

“Efforts to unite the community two years ago failed after some leaders started advancing selfish interests. This is happening once more and it is very unfortunate,” said Mr Maangi.


Green Gardens School students shine in robot contest

By ERIC WAINAINA
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Inside the Green Gardens Girls High School laboratory in Kikuyu, Kiambu County, Form Four students Eliza Gathoni and Leah Wambui create robots using plastic materials spread out on a table during a science lesson.

On the next table, their classmates Faith Wambui and Marilyn Cheptoo are glued to laptops working to programme already assembled robots so that they can perform various tasks.

The school has since 2010 been using robots to teach their students Science, Technology and Mathematics (Stem) lessons, where they integrate the subjects with ICT.

Teachers say it makes learning not only easy but also full of fun.

The robots are assembled using Lego – tiny pieces of plastic made with either studs or holes to fit into each other to form one whole unit.

Managing Director Captain Mugo Keiyoro says the use of robots makes students work with logical and effective ways that foster scientific reasoning and critical thinking, which may not be guaranteed in theoretical learning.

ROBOTIC LEAGUES

After years of using robotics in learning, the manager enrolled for robotic leagues, where the students compete with other schools in assembling and programming robots. They have competed in local and regional contests.

And last month, unknown to many Kenyans, 10 students from the school flew the Kenyan flag high in Houston, Texas, after bagging a trophy in an international robotics competition.

It was the first time a school from Kenya was participating in the event.

The students, who were representing East Africa, scooped the Judges’ Award in the April 18 event, making them the only African school to win in a competition dominated by institutions from developed countries.

“We were able to use the next-generation robotic programme which was being used a long time ago even though we have the modern programme, which other schools were using,” says Michelle Wangui, a student who participated in the event.

330,000 ENTRIES

The competition attracted about 330,000 entries from across the world. Africa was represented by six countries: Kenya, representing East and Central Africa, South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Zimbabwe and Ghana.

A school from Brazil won a trophy for being the best in robot design while another from the US bagged the core value team prize.

Mr Pascal Muchanji, the students’ coach, said the girls were phenomenal in the robotic challenge that entails assembling and programming and which requires a lot of creativity and innovation. It also needs keen research on the project theme and core values.

From the projects, the students said they not only enhanced their understanding in learning but also acquired other skills such as communication skills, team work, tolerance and time management.

ROBOTIC KITS

The team, dubbed Green Panthers used the Lego Mindstorms NTX, which is a programmable robotic kit released by Lego in 2006, but which has since been replaced by EV3 Lego kits, through which they displayed their finesse in using robots to accomplish different missions.

This also saw them ranked at position 105 overall out of the 330,000 schools, and also the best in Africa.

The competition which the students won was themed around solving the problem of supplying water in a rural set up. Competitors were expected to come up with a cheap and easily accessible water system.

They had to first identify the importance of clean water, highlight the solutions of recycling and purifying dirty water and design a system of recycling water.

The team designed a drainage system that transports sewerage from a small community to a treatment plant, where a hole is dug and fitted with a plastic sheet that filters all the discharge.

CLEAN WATER

With this, the community can have access to clean water from their urine by converting it to clean drinking water while the residue is used as manure for their farms.

The idea behind it was that urine will evaporate under sunlight and later condense because of the green foliage fitted in the system.

They then designed and marked a rural se up on a mat, assembled Legos to create the facilities in a typical village as well as structures required for the system to operate.

They included homes, latrines, drainage systems, roads, and a treatment plant — structures which were built using the Legos.

They also built and programmed robots which were supposed to demonstrate how the whole system should be assembled and operated. 


CUE new proposal major blow to non chartered varsities

By OUMA WANZALA
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More than 13 private universities with letters of interim authority have suffered a major blow after the Commission for University Education (CUE) recommended that they should not be given government sponsored students.

In their proposal to Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed, CUE says only chartered universities should be allocated government sponsored students as per the legal provisions.

This means that some of these universities are likely to shut down since a majority of students in those institutions are sponsored by the government under a programme introduced two years ago.

Also some of the institutions attracted less than 100 students in last month’s placement that was conducted by Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service.

There are 73 universities in Kenya categorised as follows: 31 public chartered universities; six constituent colleges; 18 private chartered universities; five private constituent colleges and 13 institutions with letters of interim authority.

QUALITY ASSURANCE

The report of the joint working group on quality assurance has also recommended that individual universities and colleges should ensure that no student proceeds to the next year of study until all requirements for a particular year of study are fully met.

The institutions are also required to establish an efficient and effective student management system to ensure that student progress is in accordance with senate approval.

“Universities and colleges should also put mechanisms in place to ensure that members of staff responsible for hindering student progress irregularly are held accountable,” states the report.

It also wants the Cabinet Secretary to constitute an inter-ministerial committee to harmonise accreditation of academic programmes whose graduates are registerable by professional bodies.

“All PhD holders admitted through Executive Masters degrees will not be eligible to lecture in Kenyan universities. The weighting and point system for publications should be reviewed to be consistent with international standards. This should be treated as a matter of urgency since the current system discourages collaborations and teamwork in research and publications,” reads the report.

TAX INCENTIVES

The commission will also be required to develop a repository of academic staff in universities and a repository of all publications in universities in Kenya.

“To alleviate financial pressure in universities, the government should develop policy to offer tax incentives to universities to avoid a situation where a sizeable proportion of funds sourced from funding organisations is taken up by taxes. This includes custom duty, and duty on locally assembled equipment, work permits among others. The ministry should gazette university charters and statutes that are still outstanding, as soon as possible,” states the report.

It recommends that the Kenya National Qualifications Framework (NQF) should provide the commission with level index for secondary school, certificate and diploma qualifications for purposes of harmonisation of admission requirements.

Data from the Commission indicates that a total of 3,852 programmes comprising 109 postgraduate diplomas, 1,842 Bachelor’s degree programmes 1,282 Masters programmes and 619 PhD programmes had been approved by March this year.

ACADEMIC PROGRAMMES

The report indicates that a majority of academic programmes in universities are in social and behavioural sciences category; and that approximately half   or 50 per cent of the academic programmes are in undergraduate level.

The commission has since embarked on a study to establish market needs vis-a-vis training by universities, with a view to advising on relevant curricula to the current and future industry needs.

“This will ensure that the commission approves academic programmes that are well bench-marked, researched, and relevant to national and international development goals,” reads the report.

It will be seeking to establish how current programmes on offer in universities align with national development goals and their relevance to the needs of the market or industry.

It will also look at the issue of duplication of programmes in universities and their distribution across the country as well as establish uptake of current programmes by students and the availability of qualified teaching staff for the respective programmes and document current and future needs of university training in the country.

RELATED MANDATES

On implementation of an audit report that was released in February last year, CUE says some of the accomplishments had been slowed down by issuance of contradictory statements due to lack of consensus between government agencies with related mandates.

“ The slow pace of addressing the issues raised is also occasioned by the fact that universities’ internal quality assurance systems are not well established or resourced, and, in most cases, exist only as a formality to comply with the Universities standard and guidelines. This makes implementation of roadmaps on corrective actions non-accountable,” reads the report.

There is also concerns of contraventions on admission criteria and credit transfer call for harmonisation and consensus between various agencies with related mandates.

CUE has also proposed a stop to school based programmes which mostly benefit teachers and who study during school holidays.

It says that during its study, it emerged that the programme which was initially limited to education programmes, targeting teachers, during school holidays in the months of April, August and December had been expanded to include clusters such as Business and Economics; Humanities and Social Sciences; Engineering; Medical Sciences; Technology; Visual and Performing Arts; Applied and Human Sciences; and Economics among others.

REGULAR MODE

“In all cases, the programme implements the same curriculum implemented under the regular mode, in most cases with no evidence of senate approval. Universities (both private and public) grossly overload students under the crash programme of the school based and fail to comply with the Universities standards and Guidelines, 2014, on student workload in an academic year,” says the report.

It adds that internships, attachments, practicums, and teaching practice are too complicated to fit into the programme schedule, thus compromising acquisition of skills and competences by the students needed to meet the needs of the society.

“Academic staff are equally overloaded and for years, a number of them have not gone on leave. Although Universities indicate that programmes under the  progrmme are housed at main Universities or University Campuses, audit panels observed that the actual teaching of programmes under the SBMD is mostly in off-site locations, including primary and secondary Schools, and unaccredited Centres. Such sites cannot be audited for appropriateness and adequacy of the facilities since they are not university facilities,” reads the report.

LEGAL BASIS

It adds that in a number of Universities, there were reports of using the Open, Distance and ELearning (ODEL) for school based programmes. However, no ODEL Centres had been accredited by CUE.

“The Commission in its recommendation notes that the original school-based programmes lasted for 8 years while the current school based programmes have been telescoped to cover two and a half years thus compromising the quality of the degree awarded. The Commission further notes that the School-Based Mode of Delivery of Academic Programmes was introduced without legal basis and it has compromised the quality of University education and therefore recommends that this mode of delivery of academic programmes be abolished, forthwith,” reads the report.

It adds the Commission will ensure that the programmes are stopped and constant monitoring will be undertaken given that some institutions are reinventing the practice by giving it different names.

“For programmes already in place the Commission recommends that they revert to the original 8-year duration so as to allow adequate delivery and internalization of the material covered, with teaching period or practicum designed to 12 weeks,” reads the report.


Allure of good wages pulls tens to Mandera

By MANASE OTSIALO
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By FRED MUKINDA
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Mandera County, located in the North Eastern region, borders Ethiopia to the North, Somalia Republic to the East, and Wajir County to the South and South West.
The county is unique in many ways. The social lives of the local Somalis forming the larger population will greet you on arrival, but behind the warm welcome, there is more than meets the eye.
Those who can tell the story better are the casual workers hired by the local community to work in the quarries.
Some of the questions many ask themselves are: Why hire people from far to work in the quarries? Why are these people attracted to work in the quarries despite the scorching sun and insecurity?
Mr James Maina, from Chaka in Nyeri County, says good pay attracts them, besides, the locals cannot do such a tedious job.

SH38
Mr Maina talks of a good pay of Sh38 a foot for every cut stone.
“We are facing challenges and the biggest of it all is insecurity in the quarries, residential areas and along the roads,” he opens up.
He says in the quarries, for those in Mandera East, one of them has to join the team of officers offering security to ensure they are not ‘sold’ to the enemy.
“We cannot trust the police reservists provided to guard us in the quarries. We have formulated our own ways of ensuring we are safe,” he said.
News about attacks in quarries is never news any more in Mandera since the raids by the al-Shabaab militants have become too common.

AIRLIFTED
On Thursday evening, suspected al-Shabaab militants trekked 70km from the Kenya-Somalia border at Elwak and raided a quarry at Shimbir Fatuma killing four. Two others were injured during the 5pm attack.
Yesterday, a major anti-terrorism operation continued in Mandera following the al-Shabaab attack in which one person is still missing. Two survivors were airlifted to Nairobi where they were admitted to hospital.
The victims were quarry workers at Shimbir Fatuma, Mandera South.
North Eastern regional commissioner Mohamud Saleh ordered all quarries in the area to be closed following the attack.

RESCUED
“A cordon and search operation targeting the terrorists is ongoing in the area and all quarries have been ordered closed indefinitely by the Regional Commissioner. Additional information shall be provided when obtained,” said the national police communication office.
There were 156 workers at the quarry during the 5pm attack.
“The workers were rescued by a combined multi agency team of National Police Service and Kenya Defence Forces,” the police also said.
Quarries became an al-Shabaab target in 2015 when on December 2, 36 miners were killed at Hargasu quarry in Mandera East.
The government announced a closure of the quarrying activities along the Kenya-Somalia border further banning quarry works at night.

PLOTS
Before the December 2015 attack, quarry workers worked at night when the temperatures were cool.
“We were instructed to move inside Mandera and started our operations in quarries that are far from the border,” said Maina.
Despite the ban on the night activities and moving into safer areas, quarry workers have continued to walk in the shadow of death.
On July 7, 2015, the militants struck killing 14 quarry workers at a residential plot in Mandera town.
Mr Alex Ole Nkoyo, the then County Commissioner, asked the quarry workers and the non-Somali community in Mandera not to be crowded in a residential plot.