16 May 2018

Kenya: Starehe Boys Centre Sacks Director After Donors Pull the Plug

Starehe Boys Centre has sacked its embattled director Charles Masheti, barely six months after his appointment to the position, and named a caretaker committee to oversee the school's affairs for two years.

The institution's Management Committee (MC) terminated Mr Masheti's employment amid claims of procurement disparities, a workers' strike, poor academic performance and decline in donor funding.

KPMG East Africa chief executive Josphat Mwaura has been appointed to take over directorship of the institution in an acting capacity.

"I am writing to update you on a decision taken by the Managing Committee of Starehe Boys Centre and the school to terminate the employment of Director Charles Masheti with effect from April 25, 2018," MC chairman Jimmy Mugerwa said in a letter to stakeholders.

TRANSFORMATION PROGRAMME

The MC - which oversees governance and the running of the school - appointed the Transformation Management Team that will, on a full time basis, implement the transformation programme.

Mr Mugerwa told stakeholders that the MC had, on April 10, taken charge of day- to- day affairs at the centre to give Mr Masheti time to respond to claims of irregular procurement and payments between January 2016 and February 2018.

The centre's troubles were laid bare in March when a section of employees boycotted work, temporarily disrupting operations. It was the first time, since its founding more than 50 years ago, that Starehe workers went on strike.

The workers demanded action on their "long standing" grievances, including poor working conditions, skewed remuneration structures and nepotism in appointments.

Mr Masheti had at the time declined to respond to media queries on the matter insisting that the board (MC) had taken up the workers' grievances and would communicate the way forward.

Starehe, once among Kenya's top high, has in recent years seen its academic performance decline steadily since the death of its founder and philanthropist Geoffrey Griffin in 2005.

LEFT IN A HUFF

The institution has since had three directors - Prof Jesse Mugambi, who succeeded the founder but left in a huff barely two years later, Matthew Kithyaka (2008 to 2016) and Mr Masheti who took over in an acting capacity two years ago and was confirmed in January.

The school's troubles have been traced to the botched management of succession that has been dogged with in-fighting among the old boys with vested interests.

The MC under former Kenya Shell executive Patrick Obath has, however, intervened and restored uneasy calm that has persisted in the past 13 years. The centre currently has a total of 1,081 boys, 613 of whom do not have sponsors.

The boys are fully dependent on donor support, which has been diminishing since the demise of Dr Griffin.

Mr Mwaura, who is also a Senior Partner at KPMG is expected to invest time in Starehe.

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