January 22nd 2018

Opinion / Commentaries

Current university students are the mirror, not conscience, of Kenyan society

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” said Nelson Mandela.

By David Kinyanjuidkinyanjui@kenyafreepress.comWednesday, 15 Jun 2016 10:55 EAT

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” said Nelson Mandela. Given the transformational power of education, one would expect students, especially of higher education, to provide society with its moral compass. However, in Kenya, the numerous challenges that university and college students face make it difficult for most to act decently and set an example to others in society.

All the ills in our society not only impact students lives; they manifest themselves more in these young Kenyans. Corruption as we all know is quite a menace in Kenya. Wherever you are, from the highest office in the land to the lowest, you will meet corrupt individuals. Institutions of learning are not left out in this menace especially at the tertiary levels. We all remember the saga that faced the Nairobi Aviation College of Kenya on the issuance of fake degree certificates. One could easily get a certificate with a minimum of Sh3,000. Some university administrators have also been known to receive bribes in order to admit students to degree courses for which they do not qualify. We also have cases of regular examination leakages in Kenyan institutions via payment of bribes. This system helps produce ‘half baked’ graduates in the job market, whom employers are not willing to take under their wings.                                       There is also the issue of election rigging. This is not new in Kenya since rigging is also practiced in the highest elections in Kenya, as happened in 2007 elections whose outcome ended in inter-ethnic violence. Election rigging has slowly crept into the tertiary levels of learning whereby we find  that elections to students bodies are usually bitterly contested and not infrequently end up in chaos and physical confontations.

There’s a notorious student leader in one public university who, after graduation, enrolled for another degree course in the same university in order to retain his prized position as  student leader. This leader is also known to bribe students with money before every election in order to retain his seat as  president. It has been alleged that he has goons who are willing to die for him. What is surprising though is that he still gets this position – through rigging.

The selling of flesh (prostitution) is also quite rampant as a challenge experienced in this tertiary levels of learning. Students these days use a common word, ‘Sponsor’, to mean one who is financially able to sustain the luxurious livelihood of the students in exchange for romance. ‘Sponsor’ is just an elevated term for the old sugar daddy or sugar mummy. Students from poor backgrounds, who get limited support from their parents, are especially amenable to sponsorship, but it is not only the poor who strike such bargains. Such students are well aware of the risks associated with these kind of relationships, including getting HIV/Aids and S.T.Is. We are all familiar with the fate of the University of Nairobi female student who was mysteriously murdered and her body dumped on Waiyaki Way. It was revealed that she had gone out partying the previous night with a popular member of parliament before she was murdered. This MP was rumored to be her sponsor for it was not the first time that both were having a night out. Mr John Mututho, Chairman of N.A.C.A.D.A attributes  much of the student election wrangles happening in public universities  to drugs and alcohol abuse. According to him, drug cartels that supply drugs to students often receive police protection. Drugs diminish brain activity, making the students unproductive individuals who are of little use to society. The Kenyan government should really look into this matter as it robs the country of productive individuals. Love triangles are also quite a common phenomenon in tertiary institutions. Sexual licentiousness in universities can be attributed to the fact many of the students have moved from single gender high schools to universities whereby genders intermingle. A male student was recently hacked to death at Moi University after a rival man found him in the room of a female student who was apparently double dealing the two. The deceased had gone to visit his female friend, but just shortly afterwards the one who claimed to be the rightful boyfriend arrived in the room and killed him.

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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