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.
Pure unpretending arrogance!
It was such an upsetting experience that I started a petition to have the University develop a missing marks policy the following day! The campaign has 295 petitioners. I lacked the influence to push it further. But I’d love to see that something is done to alleviate the suffering of University students.
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.
And lecturers are not inspiring all together. I mean the VC at my former school says he can’t talk with undergrad students.
Now, the university is supposed to be a learning, mentoring, nurturing space but it seldom was, at least to me and to a lot of folks from different campuses across the country that I have interacted with.
This has to change!