October 20th 2017

Society / Education

Universities to close longer as UASU pokes holes into Salaries Commission review

In rejecting the system, the lecturers have indicted the Salaries and Remuneration Commission and exposed weaknesses in the ongoing job evaluation for public servants, for which the SRC is using a single model despite the complexities in different kinds of work in the public sector.

By Free Press Reporternewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comMonday, 06 Mar 2017 17:21 EAT

UASU members protest near Parliament Buildings to press their salary demands last month.

Public university lecturers have rejected the tool the government was using to evaluate their jobs in order to determine their salary scales and pay as a means to resolving the deadlock in their salary negotiations. The decision, which has been ratified by all chapters of the University Academic Staff Union, means that the government has to adopt a new system of determining the actual value of work the lecturers do.

In rejecting the system, the lecturers have indicted the Salaries and Remuneration Commission and exposed weaknesses in the ongoing job evaluation for public servants, for which the SRC is using a single model despite the complexities in different kinds of work in the public sector.

According to documents UASU has shared with the Commission, and which this website has reviewed, the lecturers oppose the Paterson Model of Job Evaluation, giving substantial grounds for their rejection. The union's analysis of the system’s shortcomings caught officials from the Salaries Commission and the commission's consultants from Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) who were undertaking the review unawares, threatening to delay the resolution of the ongoing strike that has paralysed learning in public universities for nearly two months.

UASU’s rejection of the tool could have domino effects on other cadres of public servants who can raise the same objections the union has advanced. At the core of the union’s opposition to the model is that it is meant for jobs that exercise financial control and decision-making in organisations, which lecturers don't do.

Opposition to the system began when the SRC (PWC) teams visited JKUAT, University of Nairobi and Moi University to undertake the evaluation, only to find the local union chapters armed with arguments rejecting the basis of the evaluation they were to conduct. “We were shocked that SRC sent consultants to do a mechanical analysis of jobs when they didn’t even know what the model was meant for,” said an UASU chapter official who spoke to this website.

According to academic literature on the Paterson System, it “grades jobs according to how many Job Evaluation decisions a worker has to make in his or her job, and how important these decisions are in the running of the overall unit, branch, or industry”. Accordingly, Paterson laid down six levels of decision-making, which he has called Bands. Each one of these Bands is linked to a certain position within the branch or industry. These levels are:

Band A workers make defined decisions at unskilled levels. Band B workers make automatic decisions, being semi-skilled workers. Band C, which caters for skilled workers, comprise of routine decision-making. Band D, which is for middle level management, caters for workers who make interpretive decisions. Band E are for programming decision-makers in senior management while Band F are for top management policy making decisions.

According to union officials, they enquired whether SRC had a different tool that could be used to measure the qualitative work university lecturers do, only to find that SRC had a single system. The Kenya Free Press could not reach the SRC chairman Sarah Serem to get her feedback on the union's claims.

"Having studied the JAQ, and noting the relevance and relative importance of the banding factors, it is apparent that what has been proposed by the consultant for the ReMeasure method is not appropriate for evaluating academic positions," the union said in a memo to SRC, proposing a different matrix than the one the commission proposed in its draft studied by UASU experts.

UASU's 'Report on the Suitability of the SRC/PWC Job Analysis and Job Evaluation Process for University Academic Staff' gives a point-based response to the SRC system. For instance, the report rejects the SRC's proposed evaluation of administrative positions such as of vice chancellor, deputy vice chancellor, deans, directors and chairmen of departments, saying these outside academic ranking and in any case are held temporarily by people who hold academic positions.

The union wants SRC to restrict itself to the six academic ranks within the university, where Professor is the highest, followed by Associate Professor, Senior Lecturer, Lecturer, Tutorial Fellow and Graduate Assistant in that order. It also wants SRC to take into account qualifications and years of training for academic staff, warning that anything else would unfairly promote non-academic staff at the expense of academicians.

“The tool gives much weight to non academic functions,” said an UASU officials on the don’s social media group, “a cattle dip manager will be graded higher than a professor.” The union has compiled a list of 40 functions of university, and none impacts their institution’s financial decision-making. While some are administrative, such as sitting on examination boards, they still lacked the decisional independence on financial matters.

1. Prepare curriculum
2. Engage stakeholders in curriculum evaluation
3. Interpret curriculum
4. Prepare course outline
5. Develop learning content (through reading of articles, books etc)
6. Prepare on teaching strategies depending on the varied content
7. Deliver content using variety of media available
8. Set CATs and Exams
9. Moderate exams
10. Mark exam scripts
11. Carry out research (prepare proposals and field/lab studies)
12. Prepare publications (after extensive lit and/or field or lab studies)
13. Attend conferences (after extensive lit and field studies) to disseminate new knowledge
14. Write books
15. Run community sensitization programmes
16. Consultancy
17. Supervise student work
18. Supervise research project work at the field
19. Carry out administrative duties.
20. Guide students in research work
21. Mentor students
22. Peer Review
23. Sit and deliver in Examination Boards
24. Resource Technical Committees of Government and other institutions
25. Assess students (field attachment /practicum/teaching practise/intership etc)
26. Look for missing marks
27. Link students to industry through field trips
28. Attract funding to universities through research work.
29. Mould innovations.
30. Academic advising
31. Sustain and validate the Spirit of education for society
32. Online processing of marks
33. Online facilitation of digital and distance programs
34. Facilitating field studies
35. Attending defence meetings
36. Running digital and digital learning programs over the weekends
37. Internal examination of theses
38. External examination of theses
39. External examination locally and regionally
40. Advising on government policies
41. Compile CAT marks
42 Compile end of semester and end of year marks
42. Present marks to departmental board of examiners
43. Shortlist applicants for admission
44. Constitute thesis examination panel
45. Shortlist external examiners
46. Course coordination
47. Examination

 

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