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Communist Party of Kenya (CPK)
P.O Box 101011-00101 Nairobi, Kenya.


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By Ashlyn Ajiambo and Booker Omole 


Universities and higher learning institutions are meant to be bastions of academic freedom and vehicles for revolutionary change. Within the sphere of student activism, there exists a dichotomy between those who challenge the conservative nature of universities and those who align themselves with corrupt university administrators and their political supporters.

Universities, both in the departments of social sciences and natural sciences, have faced encroachment by reactionary forces, including religious fanatics and foreign imperialists. This influence has contributed to the erosion of the once-hallowed halls of learning. Instances of academicians without a deep understanding of their subjects are becoming increasingly common, with some philosophy departments embracing metaphysical theories and pseudo-science.

In the past, public universities in Kenya were hotbeds of progressivism, especially during the 1980s. Students and university workers, including lecturers, formed underground networks to promote socialism and challenge the one-party rule of KANU. At the time, opposition to KANU was primarily divided along tribal lines, while the student movement led an unwavering ideological struggle.

However, KANU responded to these challenges by cracking down on progressive lecturers, some of whom were killed, exiled, or imprisoned following the abortive 1982 coup. The opposition and the ruling dictatorship both began to promote tribalism and the use of money to manipulate student movements. Student Organization of Nairobi University remained banned until 1998 when the regime believed it had successfully suppressed the students' voices. This period also saw widespread economic hardship and violent riots.

In the early 2000s, the student movement witnessed the revival of revolutionary study circles. This resurgence, aided by the Communist Party of Kenya (CPK), marked the emergence of a new generation of revolutionaries within the student body. The leaders of CPK are products of this organizing effort, highlighting the importance of a solid ideological foundation in student movements.

Today, the state exerts firm control over student politics, resulting in highly demobilized students. Student union fees are often misappropriated by a few corrupt individuals who exploit their positions. Some student leaders who have transitioned to national or regional Kenyan politics often lack a coherent ideology, resorting to vulgar language to appeal to the masses.

Despite these challenges, the student movement continues to resist. Recent waves of protest, such as opposition to university privatization and fee hikes, demonstrate the ongoing fight for publicly funded education. The Young Communist League has voiced solidarity with these strikes and called on the government to reverse anti-people policies, although the government's response remains largely intransigent.

The CPK has launched the Marxist-Leninist Institute of the Communist Party of Kenya, offering ideological education to candidates to help them unlearn bourgeois miseducation and adopt a dialectical and materialist approach to learning.

Research in universities has suffered from a lack of state funding, with many projects dependent on foreign sponsorship. Universities focus on physical infrastructure over research and teaching, contributing to a brain drain as good researchers are lured away by more lucrative opportunities abroad. Furthermore, universities have shifted their priorities to profit-oriented endeavours and away from their core mandates.

Critical subjects like philosophy are taught with a focus on metaphysics, while materialism is unfairly dismissed. Some religious universities rely heavily on Vatican publications, limiting academic freedom. CPK has responded by establishing a scientific model to counter pseudo-knowledge.

When students voice genuine concerns, they are met with state terror, including arrests and even deaths. This repression aims to maintain silence amid policies that curtail academic freedom and political engagement within universities.

Private universities have enlisted security personnel to enforce conservative policies, denying students their basic right to protest or democratically elect representatives. The corporate sector also plays a role, pushing for universities to produce graduates ready for immediate employment.

CPK seeks to maintain revolutionary study circles within higher learning institutions, advocate for independent student unions, and foster unity between student, teaching, and non-teaching staff unions. Communist propaganda is being reintroduced to counter corporate and capitalist narratives.

In the words of Kwame Nkrumah, "The youth are the spark of the revolution," and the CPK believes this constituency is one they cannot afford to abandon. While the challenges are significant, the struggle for academic freedom, ideological clarity, and student empowerment remains crucial for Kenya's universities and the nation's future.


The Communist Party of Kenya hold the following principles regarding student organising:

1. Students possess both a constitutional and legal right and responsibility to organize and establish student organizations.

2. University administrations have a duty to encourage and facilitate the formation of student organizations.

3. Student organizations are essential not only for fostering harmonious relationships among students, lecturers, and university administrations but also for nurturing a culture of democracy and peace within educational institutions and the nation as a whole.

4. Student organizations can serve as fertile training grounds for organizing peaceful elections, cultivating a culture of democracy, and preparing present and future leaders for the country.

5. Academic freedom is invaluable in realizing the role of university education, which is to impart knowledge and various skills while also developing individuals who can think critically, independently, and creatively. The ultimate aim of university education is to produce well-rounded individuals with not only the necessary skills for personal and societal development but also high moral and cultural values, capable of contributing to the betterment of Kenya and the world, both materially and spiritually.

6. Academic freedom encompasses freedom of expression, association, civic and political liberties. The absence of academic freedom obstructs research and the growth of knowledge, creating passive individuals instead of empowered citizens and providing fertile ground for conflicts within and outside universities.

7. With the demise of dictatorship in Kenya, the establishment of multiparty democracy, and the Constitution of Kenya, all institutions, including universities, must actively participate in cultivating and promoting a culture of democracy and peaceful conflict resolution. This culture should be intentionally instilled in the youth within universities. Universities should lead the way in strengthening the democratic and human rights achievements the country has made thus far. It is their duty to condemn and combat human rights violations that persist in the country and advocate for greater democracy, more human rights, increased freedom, and development in Kenya.


The Role of Student Organizations and Student Leaders 

1. Advocating and Safeguarding Student Interests: Student leaders must champion, defend, articulate, and represent the interests of fellow students within the university.

2. Exemplifying Leadership: They should serve as exemplars of discipline, principled conduct, diligence, academic excellence, and strong moral values, setting a high standard for their peers.

3. Facilitating Dialogue: Student leaders act as bridges of communication between students, university administration, lecturers, and staff, ensuring effective and constructive dialogues.

4. Enhancing Student Welfare: They are responsible for organizing various welfare programs aimed at making the university experience as engaging and enjoyable as possible for students.

5. Promoting Intellectual Discourse: Student leaders coordinate seminars, symposiums, and public lectures, fostering discussions on academic matters and current national and international affairs within the university.

6. Fostering Critical Thinking: They provide platforms for critical thinking and expression within the university, encouraging a culture of open and informed debate.

7. Enhancing the University's Image: Student leaders strive to enhance the university's reputation, both nationally and globally, through creative initiatives and innovative projects.

8. Engaging in Global Issues: They organize activities that promote students' involvement in global efforts to achieve a just, peaceful, and humane world order.

9. Expressing Solidarity: Student leaders offer solidarity to individuals and communities worldwide who are engaged in struggles for freedom from various forms of oppression, whether at the hands of individuals or nations.

These roles collectively contribute to creating a vibrant, inclusive, and socially conscious academic community within the university.


The Challenges of Student Leaders Today

1. Restoring the Legacy: Student leaders today face the challenge of restoring the esteemed legacy of student leadership in the history of university education in the country.

2. Upholding Student Dignity: They must work towards restoring the good name of university students as responsible, engaged, and honourable individuals.

3. Identity and Purpose: It is essential to emphasize that they are student leaders, not merely "university prefects."

4. Genuine Representation: Student leaders need to ensure that they genuinely represent students' interests, prioritizing the collective over selfish concerns.

5. Combatting Discrimination: The fight against tribalism and all forms of discrimination among individuals is a paramount challenge.

6. Upholding Values: Student leaders should ensure that the culture of indiscipline, corruption, immorality, carelessness, and similar negative traits does not take root.

7. Promoting Democratic Culture: Sustaining a culture of democracy, peace, and constructive dialogue between students, lecturers, and university administration is crucial.

8. Preserving Academic Freedom: Student leaders must be unwavering in defending academic freedom, ensuring that it is upheld at all costs.

9. Enhancing the University Experience: They should contribute to making  Universities the best place for pursuing university education, creating a nurturing and vibrant environment.

10. Lead by Example: Student leaders need to lead by example, exemplifying good and capable leadership to inspire the Kenyan youth.

11. Personal Growth and Contribution: They should remind their fellow students that university is not just about acquiring knowledge and skills but also about personal growth and the potential to change Kenya and the world for the better.


12. Leaving a Lasting Legacy: Finally, student leaders should aim to leave a positive and enduring legacy as leaders and as a student organization when their term comes to an end.


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