NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 2 – The tired phrase ‘running battles’ came to life on Monday morning as dozens of students from the Nairobi Aviation College engaged police in a cat-and-mouse game as they protested outside the Nation Centre.
They charged that NTV had effectively “ruined” their futures by calling into question the quality of documentation their college confers with its Certificates of Doom story.
And so they sought to inflict on the media house some of the injury they felt they had suffered by pelting the Nation Media Group offices with stones.
Their fury wasn’t directed solely at the Nation Media Group as they also ‘roughed up’ other members of the Fourth Estate assigned to cover their protest.
“You’re all the same,” they accused as they pushed and shoved journalists and snatched their equipment when they sought to get an account of their grievances.
Initial attempts by police to disperse the students using teargas bore no fruit as they quickly regrouped and made their way back to the media house.
But while they were united in their belief that Nation Media Group acted callously in the airing of the expose, they were divided on its accuracy.
Arnold* a procurement student who spoke to Capital FM News before being turned on by his ‘comrades’ said it was indeed true that the college admitted students who had not attained the necessary secondary school qualifications.
“I’m doing procurement of which I pay Sh3,500 every month but you find somebody who just dropped from class six. That person comes and gets the same certificate you’re getting and this person did not even pass through Chemistry, Physics but just comes in and is doing Engineering,” he alleged.
He also said the college had received and inordinate influx of students in the last year.
“Nairobi Aviation College has been in existence since 1999. It started at the same time as Zetech and look at where they are now. They are a university. There is definitely a problem with our management,” he adjudged.
Felix* said his concern was the amount he had already paid in fees for the last 16 months. “Let them refund our fees,” he demanded. “How were we to know?”
What Amina* and Paul* tours and travel majors, were concerned about was that the work they’d already put in, like the money they had already paid in fees, would go down the drain.
“If it is true, then it’s not all of us. I actually attend classes and go to the library but Nation has ruined things for all of us,” Amina complained.
Simon* saw no truth in the expose and questioned why the Ministry of Education had allowed Nairobi Aviation College to operate for so long if the certificates they offered were sub-standard.
“Why would the Kenya National Examinations Council allow us to sit for examinations if we were not qualified?” he asked.
The time for conversation was however short as the sound of teargas being lobbed again rent the air and the students took to their heels.
An unlucky few, 21, were taken into custody and bags full of stones recovered.
“Tonight you get free room and board,” an officers told them as he joined his colleagues in sitting them down on the asphalt outside the Nation Media Group and allowed the journalists they had earlier roughed up to have a ‘field day’ with their cameras.
They were later bundled into police vehicles for booking at the Central Police Station.
“Make sure they don’t jump out of the back,” the officer-in-charge said of the students who only moments earlier forced the officers to engage them in ‘running battles’ down Kimathi street.
*not real names