, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 28 – Students from eight public and private universities have threatened to take to the streets if a proposal to increase varsity fees is approved.
Speaking on behalf of student leaders from seven other universities, SONU Chairman David Osiani said they plan to petition the government to dismiss the proposal, failure to which they will hold street protests in the next one month.
“We are going to use all the channels available to us but if nothing happens then expect to see us out there and all universities, be they private or public, will be closed,” he warned.
A World Bank sponsored team of local and international experts recently recommended that students should pay more fees and that the Higher Education Loans Board should levies higher interest on its loans to give universities the funds they need to run the institutions while easing the burden on Treasury.
The students however argued that if implemented, it would make higher education the preserve of a few rich people.
“What they are proposing is that the regular and parallel students be paying a similar amount. That means increasing it for the regular students and decreasing it for the parallel ones which means that the A student who cannot afford remains at home while the B student who can afford comes to school,” he added.
The leaders drawn from University of Nairobi, Kenyatta University, Daystar University, United States International University-Kenya and others said the government should instead consider increasing the loans that students get through the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB).
“We request the government to increase the loan by about 40 percent. This is the same loan that students had 10 years ago when unga (maize flour) was Sh48. Today, the price of unga has increased by almost 100 percent and we are still surviving on the same amount from where we are expected to pay the fee,” Mr Osiani complained.
At a press conference, the students also called on the government to lift the 1999 ban on the Kenya National Students Union to give students the voice they need to better fight for their rights.