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Sunday, 16 September 2012

Uncertainty at Machakos University College

Machakos University 
admits pioneer class

 By Martin Masai
The Joint Admissions Board (JAB) has admitted the pioneer batch of students to begin the classes at Machakos University College in September 2012 .

This comes even as the State drags its feet over the appointment of a University Council to manage what will now be known as Machakos University College, the successor of Machakos Technical Training College. Observers see the failure to name a University Council as a key omission. The Chair of the University Council is to follow later. Prof Chrispus Kiamba, the Permanent Secretary for Higher Education told The Anchor that the appointment of the Council was being addressed.
But as we went to press, The Anchor was informed that the students will not report to the institute as scheduled. A staff meeting at the Institute was told to inform the freshers to report to Kenyatta University as classes would commence in January 2013, an indication that something is terribly wrong with the formation of the Machakos University College
The campus will operate for three years before standing alone as a fully fledged university. Even then, a visit to the University Website, updated on June 7 2012, makes no mention of Machakos University College and neither is the campus listed among KU’s 11 campuses and colleges, a very curious omission indeed.
 It marks a great transition in the history of Education in Machakos County after MTTI held what may go down in history as its last graduation ceremony as a tertiary training institution in June 2012.
It is not that it is winding up. No. It is because it has attained the coveted status of a University College. This transition comes fittingly after a long wait during which it nearly became a polytechnic, but by a twist of fate or destiny has finally become Machakos University Collage.
This new status was created via Kenya Gazette Notice Number 130 of Sep-tem-ber 16, 2011. The University Collage becomes the successor of the Machakos Technical Training Institute.
It will operate as a Campus of Kenyatta University, with the status of a con-stituent college of Kenyatta Uni-ver-sity being Tran-si-tional only. The Gazette notice re-quired Kenyatta University to initiate the necessary administrative and legal measures to ensure that the University College becomes a fully fledged University.
This development comes after a good 55 years of hard work and waiting. It is a pleasant surprise to many who have been waiting for the actualization of a pledge by the Government five years ago to make the Institute the first fully fledged national polytechnic in the whole of Eastern Province.
During the MTTI’s 6th graduation cer-emony presided over by the then Minister for Science and Technology Dr Noah Wekesa in 2008, it was announced that the institute would become a National Polytechnic.
But this did not happen, thanks to typical red tape and understandable bu-reau-cracy associated with Gov-ernment. Neither has there been an explanation why the poly status never came-nor does no one want it anyway.
After years of build-up under the stew-ardship of the Principal Mrs Mary Muthoka,  together with a Board of Gov-er-nors chaired by Prof Peter Mbithi, the University of Nairobi’s Deputy Vice Chan-cellor for Finance and Ad-min-is-tration, there is no doubt that the time for MTTI to become a uni-ver-sity could have been better.
The name- Machakos Technical Training Institute- is associated with the very beginning of technical training in the expansive region and is viewed by many as a treasured graduation from what was initially a technical school
The institute was started in January 1957 as a rural technical training school offering tailoring and carpentry courses. It was then run by the local county council before the government took it over and renamed it the Macha-kos Technical Trade School a year later. It was later to become Machakos Tech-nical School, offering secondary school curriculum.
It was one of the nineteen government national technical secondary schools which were upgraded to post secondary training institutes with the advent of the 8-4-4 system of education in 1985.
Its secondary school status was phased out in 1987 with the last batch of high school students completing their K.C.S.E in No-vem-ber 1987.
The institute currently offers 22 di-ploma courses and 28 different training programmes spread across 60 different courses This elevated status, though significant, may introduce some challenge to the thousands of students unable to attain university entry grades who have for years taken the middle level courses offered by MTTI.
The training programmes which have been fully established in the last 15 years include accounting, business ad-min-is-tration and management, car-pen-try, clothing technology and co-operative management. This training has been so perfected at MTTI that the institution is a Centre of Excellence in Clothing Technology.
In addition there are courses in Elec-trical Engineering, Electronics, Food and Beverage production service, mechanical and motor vehicle en-gi-neering, marketing man-agement, secretarial studies, supplies man-agement and welding and fab-ri-cation.
The development comes at a time MTTI is about to complete a 50 bed capacity hotel that is planned to be a training facility for Tourism students on the same level with Nairobi’s  Utalii Hotel. Its Le Technish Restaurant has been making the foun-dation for the es-tab-lishment of the hotel, bringing competitive service in hotel man-agement to Machakos and beyond
The Le Technish restaurant with modern well equipped facilities and which is  situated within its compound apart from acting as a training ground for students taking catering courses also supplements the institute’s income as it hosts semi-nars and special parties.
While many parents have previously been forced to take their children elsewhere to pursue higher education, this de-vel-opment will certainly bring a sigh of relief.
The Machakos University Collage comes to join the South Eastern University Collage(SEUCO), whose Machakos Campus opened doors for Under Graduate and Masters students recently. Other universities in the municipality include St Pauls Uni-ver-sity, Nazarene University and Scott Christian  Uni-ver-sity,
The turning of the institute into a Uni-ver-sity  comes with  a demand for improvement of the current in-fra-struc-ture.
The Universities will also put pressure to Machakos Town to increase its capacity to deal with such a teaming number of institutions of Higher learning, which come with an equally damning demand for services and infrastructure. Ob-servers see this as a turning point for the  town founded  in 1897 the Imperial British East African Company.

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