January 23rd 2018

Media / Arts & Culture

Supremacy wars in courses offered in Kenyan universities

From a keen observation of Kenyan universities one will notice the difference between students studying Engineering and Scientific courses and the students studying art courses.

By David Kinyanjuidkinyanjui@kenyafreepress.comFriday, 14 Oct 2016 16:43 EAT

"My son is in the university undertaking a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering. What about your son?” A boastful parent will shout out. “Well mine is in the university undertaking a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication,” the other would reply in a hushed tone as if ashamed of the course that the child chose to undertake.

University of Nairobi in its 55th graduation ceremony held on September 4th 2016 produced a whopping 332 graduates from the school of engineering. On the other hand, school of arts and design and school of physical sciences when both combined produced a total of 300 students. Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and technology in its 27thgraduation ceremony held on June 2016 awarded 86 undergraduate degrees in civil engineering. On the other hand, only 30 undergraduates were awarded degrees in mass communication.

Kenyatta University is not left out in this trend. In its 40th graduation ceremony which took place on 15th July 2016, approximately 400 graduates were awarded degrees in sciences whereas about 300 were awarded arts degrees. There were of course many more awarded in fields like business, law, education, and other humanities.

However, what the above statistics show is that a lot of students are taking up science and engineering courses as compared to the few taking arts courses in Kenya. Why is this so? Well many will try and argue here that it is the students’ decisions that led them to taking such courses. Well according to my research, the students are forced into such courses due to pressure, either from the parents or on the other hand from the society itself.

Many a parent will really boast of the fact that their child will become a doctor or an engineer in the future as opposed to those who will become journalists or waiters. What these parents really do not know is the amount of pressure they are putting on these students. These students are always under pressure in order to satisfy their Parents expectations.

From a keen observation of  Kenyan universities  one will notice the difference between students studying engineering and scientific courses and the students studying art courses. It’s not difficult to notice the Science and Engineering students for they are ever in a hurry. Most of the time they look unkempt and confused as they carry their books around, either going to classes or to the library.

These students are always quite anti- social and are in most cases always in their own world thinking of this or that. Or maybe contemplating on how difficult their coursework is. On the other hand an arts student is always quite lively and well kempt. These art students are more open to life and more warm, lively and friendly. They are always ready to tackle life issues as compared to the science students who are mainly focused on their studies and always indoors.

Yes, it is true that engineering jobs are quite well paying as compared to most art jobs here in Kenya. This might be the only core reason as to why there has been an influx of the engineering students in the recent years in Kenyan universities. All this is in an effort to get a better future. Unknown to Kenyans, some art courses really lead to well-paying jobs.

A perfect example in this case is the journalism profession. There are journalists who make close to quarter a million shillings per month.This is much more as compared to what an engineer would make per month. Another perfect example in this case is the relationship courses, both public relations and international relations. These courses may also lead to well-paying jobs as compared to some engineering courses.

Due to the influx in the engineering and science courses in recent times, this spells doom to the industries associated here. This is due to an influx of the labour in these industries, thus rendering some unemployed and rising the rate of unemployment in the country. This in turn may lead to other problems such as insecurity.

I am not saying that students should not enroll for engineering courses, all I am implying is that before selecting any course in the university, one should think outside the box and broadly. The students should not succumb to pressure both from the parents and the society in large. One should be able to select his or her own path for one is to set their own destiny and choose what one wants with his or her own life.

Kinyanjui is a student of journalism studies at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. He is currently on industrial attachment at the Kenya Free Press.

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