Ken Ramani: Rot and confusion galore in examination system

The training, examination and certification of post-secondary programmes offering medical-related programmes is facing a dilemma, if not a crisis of sorts.

The Kenya Medical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians Board (KMLTTB) will tomorrow be holding a one-day conference to discuss issues in the sub-sector, including registration of members.

According to a public notice the board issued on March 13, the board will also administer examinations in July at centres across the country. It is not yet clear what kind of examinations it will administer, whether they will be proficiency or academic.

The Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) examines and issues diplomas and certificates to candidates from all middle-level colleges. This raises the question: Has KMLTTB taken over the role of Knec?

KMLTTB has also directed training institutions registered by different bodies to pay annual subscription fees ranging between Sh70,000 and Sh480,000. Public universities are creations of different Acts of Parliament, private universities are regulated by the Commission for Higher Education, the Kenya Medical Training College is under the Ministry of Health, while middle-level colleges are registered by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. To which body are these institutions supposed to pay such fees?

There is a constitutional interpretation case yet to be heard and determined regarding the mandate and role of KMLTTB. Also, on March 28, 2006, a private college obtained court orders barring KMLTTB from implementing a new curriculum and the accompanying fees schedule it had placed in the Kenya Gazette. The case is still pending in the Nakuru High Court. Why is KMLTTB issuing fresh demands to training institutions before the matter is resolved? Why should it offer exams at the level of training institutions?

Radical surgery

The confusion is so serious that only radical surgery can help sort out the mess. Many lab specialists not mentioned in the KMLTTB Act 1999 are affected by the board’s machinations. These include those specialising in biochemistry, microbiology, parasitology, pathology and virology.

All public universities operate under their own Acts enacted by Parliament. The Acts are in no way inferior to that of KMLTTB. Private universities, too, operate under their own charters and letters of interim authority issued by the Commission of Higher Education. Apart from CHE, the institutions are not subject to any other body. Who mandated KMLTTB to develop a training curriculum and examine it?

KMLTTB, even as its name suggests, is a board of technicians and technologists that do not belong to degree holders (bachelors, masters and PhD) and, therefore, cannot pretend to regulate by way of approving their programmes in laboratory sciences.

There is need for the industry players to comprehensively define who a technician or technologist is. The KMLTTB Act 1999 defines a technician as anybody holding a certificate, diploma or degree in medical laboratory technology from KMTC or any other equivalent institution.

The fact is KMTC offers courses in medical laboratory sciences, not technology. Universities, on the other hand, are not equivalent institutions to KMTC.

The fact that KMLTTB has been registering graduates with medical laboratory sciences and not medical laboratory technology means it has been handling the wrong people. If it wants to register those with degrees and diplomas in medical laboratory sciences, it ought to urgently initiate amendments to the Act creating it.

Knec was established to offer examinations, including in medical laboratory disciplines, using a curriculum developed by Kenya Institute of Education. However, KMLTTB has not appointed Knec as its agent thus causing confusion in the sector.

The board is collecting money from students promising to administer examinations and issue certificates. The question is: Does KMLTTB have the capacity to set exams, administer them and issue certificates that can be recognised locally and internationally? Has it taken over the role of CHE in regard to equating of qualifications from foreign institutions?

In its correspondences, KMLTTB uses the Ministry of Health letterheads but doesn’t indicate its physical address. The uninitiated may think the board is a department of the Ministry of Health, yet it is not. Who allowed KMLTTB to use the Ministry of Health letterheads? How come other regulatory bodies such as Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board do not use the ministry letterheads?

The Government ought to move fast and bring sanity to this sub-sector. The problems currently facing Knec should not be addressed in isolation.

The writer is a public relations officer at Egerton University.

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8 Responses to Ken Ramani: Rot and confusion galore in examination system

daniel said...

this is true,the Bord is examining students for which they have not taught.does it mean after i have satisfied the Bord of university examiner kmlttb can proof otherwise as they have implicated by failing students in their exams???? concerned university student taking bsc(mls)

Anonymous said...

this article is so true. i am glad that someone realizes the confusion that this useless board has caused. may it be disbanded immediately.


Anonymous said...

the board has caused confusion among mmedical laboratory personnel. how do you exam out of what you never taught? supprising, this has caused alot of shortages in the field because people are changing proffessions. i booked for this years feb exams, it was postponed to april, then to may, iam tired, in fact they should register qualified lab perssonnel from recognised intitutions automatically.

Anonymous said...

i suspect there is no exam MAY 3,HAkuna timetable a week 2 exam.

Anonymous said...

I dont think there is justice here .We should have a scientist board for scientists.we dont want a situation where the Kmlttb wants to examine a Phd holder in biomedical sciences and denies them opputunity to to do research since they are handling human specimen.I think the two people are in two worlds apart.Let them leave researchers alone and deal with people in hospitals(Lab technologists and technitians) who have direct contact with patients.In the first place they have not organised their house.

Anonymous said...

Forget actually sitting for the exams, it was such a mission to even enlist myself to sit for the exam. I have done an MSc in clinical microbiology in a different country.I am just wondering how i go to sit for some exam which i dont even know what sort of content i will be examined on!! Its such a sham and all i can do is go with the flow man! hopefully this system changes soon and the scientists of the future have an easier entry into their careers!

Anonymous said...

kmlttb is just a body that is actually lowering the superiority of the careers on their mandate.this is actually endangering the entire laboratory scientist and we should fight for our should be regulated from conducting exams.e.g degree in mls do virology and immunology of which are not examined by this board.those who are suffering are the laboratory scientist. why cant we trigger some changes for our sake.

Anonymous said...

Ithink the objective of doing the board exam was and have been Misinterpreted
This exam was meant to gauge anyone from institutions other than kmtc and wanted to practice lab. Science just like any other professional body . Ithink instead of critisim any sober mind would provide ways to
strengthen it. But incases where there are malpractices by the board Let us deal with it separately. The board steppedin to Villa gap as regulatory we cannot operete in isolation on the 21st centuary.