Graduating from University in Kenya can be challenging for all the wrong reasons, says Boniface Sagini.
I graduated last week. There are many things in my life I have endeavoured, succeeded or failed at. But I’d not like to think of my graduation as one of those things. It was rather a celebration of overcoming; a triumph over school. A sigh of relief. Good riddance.
It’s been a tough few years. And I don’t mean tough in the sense of writing challenging exams or sitting through hundreds of hours of gruelling and sometimes boring classes or chasing deadlines or being penalised for late submission of assignments. That’s pedestrian.
This is the kind of tough I mean:
I almost had a breakdown after chasing a teacher to fix a missing mark in the last few months preceding graduation. I travelled all the way from up country to meet this lecturer. He turned me down. I begged. He told me to go see the chairman of the department and tell him that he had refused to help. Even after a fellow teacher requested him to help, he refused to oblige.
On the 4th of August 2018, I sat for a Remote Sensing exam for which there had been zero assessment tests and zero lecturer appearances. The ghost teacher sent a 3-page handout with just a few definitions, hand sketches and an assignment only one day before the exam. I was supposed to miraculously garner enough knowledge from this scant handout to earn 100 marks in a matter of a few hours. How ridiculous!
In the course of my studies, my fellow students and I have had to defer practical lessons in the concrete lab because the school “had no money to buy a bag of cement.” We also had to beg the teacher to attend our lectures because she was too busy and she wasn’t being paid.
We have had to beg for our results. Even as graduates, we don’t have exam transcripts. And we have been incredibly lucky to graduate. That’s why we are celebrating.
Entire classes have had to be failed because they disappointed a lecturer. Students have had to wait for up to a year to graduate despite them having received all the examination results and cleared all their fees. Some female students have had to trade sex for marks.
I'm Bonface Sagini. I study structural engineering and I love snuggling up with a good book.
I'm a member of the Africa Youth Think Tank (YTT) an initiative by the Mastercard Foundation being implemented by Restless Development Uganda. At YTT we conduct youth led research to capture the lived realities and challenges of African youth. Our reports are used to inform better policies for the youth.
I am a published author of one book. Its title is Thrills and Chills: Trudging Through life. It's about pain and overcoming.
I'm writing a second book to address the issues impinging on young people in the 21st century around work, love and life.
I was the 21st and 22nd regional ambassador representing Kenya in Tunza Ecogeneration, a CSR initiative by Samsung Engineering and UNEP.