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Thousands miss Helb funding on national IDs issuance hitch

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Thousands miss Helb funding on national IDs issuance hitch


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Student loan beneficiaries at Helb offices in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Applicants are required to provide their national ID numbers as well as that of their parents on the Helb portal.
  • This requirement has seen thousands of students miss out on loans amid delays in the processing of IDs by the State.

Thousands of students joining tertiary institutions have missed out on funding by the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) following delays in the issuance of national identity cards.

Applicants are required to provide their national ID numbers as well as that of their parents on the Helb portal.

This requirement has seen thousands of students miss out on loans amid delays in the processing of IDs by the State.

Sources at the National Registration Bureau told the Business Daily that the production of the IDs has been hampered by a breakdown of machines, which has slowed down output amid a huge backlog of pending applications.

“There are so many IDs that need to be printed and we have been experiencing breakdowns on our machines, hence the delay,” said a source who sought anonymity.

The Business Daily was unable to reach officials at the registration office by press time.

Students who spoke to the Business Daily said they applied for IDs more than four months ago but they are yet to get them, missing out on the application of the Helb loan at a time when universities have started admitting.

“I cannot apply for Helb because I am yet to get my ID four months later since I made my application,” said one of the students who spoke to the Business Daily.

The hitch has rattled many parents and guardians who are now forced to pay fees for the students out of pocket or seek other sources of funding such as bank loans.

A total of 128,073 students were placed in universities while 193,994 applied for vocational and technical studies but most of them are yet to apply for Helb for lack of IDs.

Helb normally gives loans to students admitted to both public and private universities as well as those in technical and vocational institutions.

Students under government sponsorship are funded by Sh70,000 capitation paid directly to universities and they are expected to meet the other costs using the loan they get from Helb.

Data from the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) shows that the 69 public and private universities admitted 128,073 students against available space for 167,046.

This means that 76.6 percent of available capacity in universities has been filled for this year, a drop from 84.6 percent in 2020 when the institutions were left with 22,298 unfilled places.

The number of students who scored C+ and above in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations that opted to join technical and vocational education and training institutions (TVETs) increased 40 percent, an indication that technical courses are gaining popularity.

“In the 2020 KCSE, 6,617 students who attained C+ and above chose TVET programmes and were placed, up from 2,632 in 2019,” Education Cabinet secretary George Magoha said during the release of the 2020 universities and colleges placement results.

Of the 747,161 candidates that sat the 2020 KCSE examination, 142,540 attained the minimum university entry grade of C+.

allocated money

Government capitation to public universities currently is based on the differentiated unit cost (DUC) model that is pegged on the number of undergraduate students registered and courses they take.

Under the DUC, the government should ideally cater for 80 percent of the unit cost while the remaining 20 percent is borne by the students and the institutions.

Public universities will be allocated money based on course completion rates, community service and gender considerations as the government moves to implement the performance-based funding model.

The Universities Funding Board has set key performance indicators for the institutions of higher learning, including research outputs, number of industrial attachments facilitated by the universities and female students enrolled in science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses.

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months


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A Kenya Airways aircraft at JKIA. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Kenya Airways will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.
  • The airline in a notice to its customers yesterday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.

The airline in a notice to its customers Monday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

The airline will then resume full operations on the route on September 20, flying three times per week on the Indian route, which is one of the most lucrative destinations on its network.

Passengers on the route will part with Sh46,000 ($419) for one-way air ticket on economy class seats from Nairobi to Mumbai- prices that are relatively the same compared to what it was charging before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Welcome back onboard! Fly from Nairobi to Mumbai starting Thursday 16th September with normal schedules resuming from Monday 20th September 2021,” said the airline in a notice to its customers yesterday.

KQ Suspended passenger flights to and from Mumbai on April 30 until further notice, following a government directive on travel between India and Kenya due to a Covid-19 crisis in that country.

The airline said on Friday that passengers who had booked tickets after May 1, the date of the last flight from Mumbai to Nairobi, will have to change their plans.

Affected passengers, KQ said, could also take vouchers for the value of their fare for future travel within 12 months.

India has seen soaring infection rates in the recent days, since the discovery of a new virus variant. Last month, India put on lockdown one of the states following a spike in cases of Covid-19.

Other countries that have banned flights to India include France, the UK Bangladesh, Oman and Hong Kong that have banned travel to and from India or asked their nationals coming from the Asian country to isolate themselves in government-approved hotels.

India has so far detected 33,264,175 corona virus cases with the number of deaths hitting 442,874 as at September 13.

A large number of patients from Kenya also travel to India every year for specialised medical treatment, especially cancer care, helping to drive medical tourism in the densely populated country that boasts affordable and easily accessible healthcare.

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs


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Man pulls a cart loaded with second-hand clothes at Gikomba Market in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.
  • Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.
  • Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

The average price of a tonne of second-hand clothing items imported into the country crossed the Sh100,000 mark for the first time last year on reduced volumes in the wake of safety protocols and guidelines to curb spread of coronavirus.

Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.

Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.

Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

Last year’s drop was the first dip since 2011 when 76,533 tonnes were shipped in compared with 80,423 tonnes the previous year, the official data collated by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows.

The import bill for the merchandise amounted to Sh12.24 billion, a drop of 31.11 percent, or Sh5.53 billion, year-on-year.

TIn imposing the temporary ban on used clothes, Kebs had applied a standard which prohibits buying second-hand clothes from countries experiencing epidemics to ensure disease-causing microorganisms are not imported into Kenya.

Higher quality and relatively lower prices for mitumba has continued to drive demand for used clothes at expense of locally-made products amid higher margins enjoyed by traders largely operating in informal markets.

The lucrative second-hand clothing market has seen traders from China —a key source market for the merchandise —open shops in Gikomba, Kenya’s largest informal market for mitumba, in recent years to cash in rising demand.

Earnings from exports of articles of apparel and clothing accessories fell 5.32 percent to Sh32.92 billion last year compared with 2019, data indicates.

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud


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Cotu boss Francis Atwoli. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.
  • Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.

Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

Mr Atwoli is the secretary-general of KPAWU. The rival union claimed KPAWU had encroached on its area of workers’ representation.

Justice James Rika, however, dismissed the claim and ruled that the dispute should have been taken through conciliation, and was therefore presented in court prematurely.

He also stated that Kefhau must go beyond its registration and recruit sufficient members from the employers, to be granted recognition and organisational rights.

“Registration on its own, does not afford the claimant (Kefhau) recognition. Until there is proof that Kefhau has satisfied Section 54 of the Labour Relations Act, the status quo must be maintained,” said the judge.

“Kefhau must recruit at least 50 percent plus one, of the unionisable employees in the floriculture and horticulture industry, members of the Agricultural Employers Association to be considered for recognition,” he stated.

He noted that there is a Recognition Agreement and CBA, binding Mr Atwoli’s union and Agricultural Employers Association, affecting 73 Flower Growers Group of employers, and over 60,000 employees.

“It is objectionable for Kefhau to be allowed organisational rights, and the legitimacy to receive trade union dues and agency fees, from over 60,000 employees, just on the strength of registration as a trade union,” said the judge.

Kefhau wanted the court to declare that it is the sole trade union, which is allowed by its constitution to carry out activities in the export floriculture and vegetable industry, and an order restraining Mr Atwoli’s from representing workers in that area.

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