It has been a mixed bag of events for university students in Kenya. As a writer, I have been following some of the events that happened in various campuses and as the year ends, I share some of the highlights here.
In comparison to last year, 2014 has experienced a significant of student deaths. Although we don’t have the exact number, 30 – 50 deaths is a possible approximate, and these are just deaths that have been reported in the media.
Most of the deaths have been shrouded in mystery. Just in the past few weeks, the body of a Zetech College student was found near Kenyatta Hospital, a Daystar University was reportedly knocked by a car and died after she went missing two weeks earlier. Two Egerton students were shot and killed by the police in a case of mistaken identity.
Earlier in the year, the body of a student at the University of Nairobi was found in the main swimming pool and whose death was suspicious on the grounds that he might have been murdered by his friends after a night out.
The University of Nairobi leads in the number of students’ deaths with the most recent one being the Lower Kabete Campus student who died at the hands of her British boyfriend. A first-year student died at Kenyatta University after a night out. Still at KU, another student was attacked by thugs and killed on the spot and several others died in accidents.
At Masinde Muliro University, a student was also found dead in his room at Nambale hostels. By the time his death was being reported, the body had already decomposed. Again, no one knows what caused the death of the student.
At Strathmore University, a student was shot four times in an attempted robbery. From the alarming reports, University administrators should take extra precautions to protect students and ensure students are in a safe environment while in campus.
The year 2014 was full of riots, with an average of five major riots every month. Tens of universities were closed indefinitely following riots, and thousands of students were forced to pay for damages resulting from the riots. In May, Hundreds of thousands of students rioted over proposed fee increment across the country. From Mombasa to Kisumu, Nairobi to Kakamega, Nyeri to Busia, hundreds of students clashed with the police and were arrested.
In September, students again targeted the Higher Education Loans Board after it delayed to disburse money to the students’ accounts. The riots took the whole day across the country. Recently, JKUAT was closed indefinitely after students rioted and each student slapped with a fine of over Sh5000 to pay for the damages. A week later, Egerton University was also closed indefinitely after students were locked out of exam room for not paying school fees.
Dedan Kimathi and Karatina Universities in Nyeri have also been closed indefinitely. At Kenyatta University, students recently went on the rampage over elections of student leaders at the institution.
Moi University’s School of Law was also shut down for the better part of the semester as lecturers skipped classes. Technical University of Kenya has led in the number of riots with at least four demos and strikes.
Most Universities held special events with Kenyatta University having a whole week of celebrating culture. The event was attended by thousands of people both at the University grounds and at KICC.
USIU subsequently held its Culture week in what is usually dubbed as ‘Black History’ where dozens of students were honored for various achievements. Mr. and Mrs. USIU, an event that attracts both brains and beauty, was held recently with none of the titles being taken by a Kenyan.
All Africa University Games to promote Peace were held at the University of Nairobi, which saw various universities from Africa participate. Most Universities excelled and celebrated their students in various categories. From my analysis, the most exciting University to be in was USIU while the most boring was the University of Nairobi, where money meant for student events is usually shared among goons and SONU officials.
USIU had a student selected for the Washington Fellowship, President Obama’s initiative for African youths. In terms of how students communicate, the students from the University have been ranked highly. University of Nairobi topped the country as the best University while Strathmore University was ranked the Best Business School. Strathmore University students were the winners of the ACCA campus Business challenge while University of Nairobi students won the MSK student marketing challenge. Strathmore outshines all universities in sports with the rugby and hockey teams outperforming major clubs in their respective leagues.
Students from JKUAT won the inter-university Intel app challenge while Kenyatta University student scooped Miss World Kenya. Innovation and creativity was a bar raised high in 2014 but students from Masinde Muliro and Moi among the major universities were not featured anywhere. Over 100,000 students are expected to have graduated before the year ends and this is a great achievement.
As we enter 2015, we hope to cover more interesting stories, interview achieving students and provide a platform for students to get aware of what is happening around them.