3 June 2003

Kenya: Laboratory Technicians in Examination Feud

Nairobi — Trouble is simmering at the Kenya Medical Laboratory Technicians and Technologists Board (KMLTTB) over student membership and national examinations.

The board is demanding students in technical training institutions register as members even before they complete their studies. Investigations have established that even first year students pay an annual membership fee of Sh2,500 on the day they report to their colleges.

And the board has in the recent months intensified its pressure on principals to advise their students to enrol for its examinations and abandon the one administered by the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec).

At the same time, a controversy has hit the board over the way the funds it has collected from students are being used.

Some top officials of KMLTTB are threatening to quit and sue the chairman, Mr A B Safari, for what they term as arrogance, lack of transparency and accountability in regard to the expenditures of the board.

Members say the board's books of account have never been audited contrary to the provisions of the constitution.

Students and practising technologists are also complaining that the board has failed to issue membership certificates for more than two years since they registered.

"Every time we enquire about the certificates, we are told they have not arrived from London where a certain firm is alleged to have been contracted to print them," says a Kenyatta Hospital-based lab technologist.

According to the Act establishing KMLTTB, the board is not mandated to examine the discipline. Part II (3,1) of the Act mandates KMLTTB to exercise general supervision and control over training, business, practice and employment of lab technicians and technologists in Kenya and to advise the Government in relation to all aspects of the profession.

It is therefore inconceivable that the board could assume examining and certifying roles outside the Act.

As the board continues to flex its muscle, parents are bound to lose millions of shillings already paid for the Knec exams to be taken later in the year.

When reached on phone for comment, Safari declined to clarify as to why the board is registering students as members yet it is supposed to be a club of professionals.

He defended the board's decision to examine and certify, saying the Act establishing it allows members to craft ways of recognising qualifications.

Investigations have also established that students have fled the Nyeri-based School of Alternative Medicine and Technology (Samtech) associated with renowned African herbal medicine doctor, Jack Githae.

Samtech is accusing a local prominent member of KMLTTB of inciting students to flee the institution which had registered them for the Knec examinations for which they had paid over Sh8,000.

The school has been performing impressively since its inception in the early 1990s. Some parents have also started requesting the institute to release their children and write their progress reports with a view to finding alternative institutions for them.

Githae confirmed yesterday that he declined to register his students numbering 80 to sit the KMLTTB examination owing to the fact that the board is not mandated to examine and certify.

Githae appealed to the Government to intervene.

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