A decision by Technical University of Kenya (TUK) engineering students alumni to sue the institution for their inability to be registered by the Engineering Board of Kenya (EBK) has triggered the suspension of the engineering courses in the university. Without EBK registration, an engineer will struggle to find good jobs and even start own practice because the license is a core determinant of the ability to delivery.
In an article published in Business Daily TUK, formerly the Kenya Polytechnic, is said to have frozen admission of fresh learners and teaching of continuing students in the faculty of Engineering Sciences and Technology after EBK listed it among institutions that are not certified to offer the courses.
The affected programmes are undergraduate degree courses in four engineering fields namely civil, mechanical, electrical and chemical.
EBK, established by the Engineers Act (2011) – has powers to approve and accredit engineering programmes at tertiary institutions. It also licenses all engineering graduates to practice the trade in Kenya.
In the suit, about to be filed and seen by Kenya Monitor, the 54 students want their case heard soonest because
“The ends of justice demand that the Petition be heard during the current High Court Vacation to enable the Applicants seek appropriate remedies from this court, as the Petitioners are in danger of being rendered unemployed for the rest of their lives.”
The respondents to the case are the Attorney General of Kenya, Technical University of Kenya, The University of Nairobi, The Commission for University Education, Engineers Board of Kenya and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.
The students were admitted to pursue the degree of engineering at the University of Nairobi, in the year 2009. They were then were posted to the Kenya Polytechnic as a constituent college of the University of Nairobi, to undertake their classes, and pursue their degree course. In the suit, they argue that
“The Kenya Polytechnic University College was then chartered into a fully-fledged university whereby, without proper transition process, it absorbed the Petitioners into their university.”
The students thereby graduated with their respective degrees in engineering from TUK. However it is the refusal to be registered by EBK that has forced them to sue the respondents to ensure they are registered at able to make a living from their academic qualifications.
In the suit, they argue that
“On 18th December, 2013 the Petitioners, contrary to their legitimate expectation of being awarded degrees by the University of Nairobi, were awarded degrees in Bachelors of Engineering Electrical and Electronic Engineering by the Technical University of Kenya.
The petitioners approached the Engineers Board of Kenya in order to register with them as a graduate engineers but they were turned away at the reception where they were told that the Engineers Board of Kenya Doesn’t recognize degrees certificates from Technical University of Kenya as the Technical University of Kenya is not recognized neither is it accredited to offer engineering courses in Kenya.”
They further add that during the course of the studies, they fully enjoyed the services of the University of Nairobi including the Lecturers, the Library, the UNES Bookshop and any other service that was deemed appropriate. The syllabus undertaken was approved by the University of Nairobi Sebatem, with all exams taken being approved by the same senate. They note that any graduation ceremony conducted in the years between 2009 and 2013 were official congregations of the University of Nairobi with Prof. Maghoha, the Vice Chancellor of University of Nairobi, presiding over the ceremonies.
This suit is further guided by a similar suit filed by Mombasa Polytechnic engineering alumni students who won their case and were registered by the Board.
They therefore say that rights for equal protection and equal benefit of the law under Article 27(1) of the Constitution was infringed. In addition, the refusal to be licensed by EBK is contrary to Article 47(1) of the Constitution more specifically, they say that it lacked in fair administrative process that equity, non-discrimination and equality. In addition, having denied them an opportunity to access employment as engineers contrary section to 5(2)(3) of the Employment Act as well as contrary to Article 55 (c) of the Constitution.
Their final plea is that the court orders the University of Nairobi to graduate the students and issue them with fresh degree certificates Bachelors of Science Electrical and electronics Engineers. This is what they will present to EBK to ensure they are registered, licensed and earn a decent living.