More than 600 students from Kilifi County who are studying in various universities around the country have for the past five years either deferred their studies or dropped out completely after failing to raise the required fees.
Speaking at Ganze Primary School during a meeting with 158 university students from Ganze who have been forced to drop out, Kilifi university and technical training institutions students’ union chairman Jacob Fikirini said the number might soar if no mitigation measures are taken by both the county and national governments.
The association, he said, is currently setting up a database of all students facing fees challenges in all the seven sub-counties with anticipation that the number might increase as others continue to come out and register.
The meeting which was also used to officially launch a database of all university students from the constituency was also attended by Ganze MP Teddy Mwambire.
“We have more than 600 students from Kilifi who are currently at home when they are actually supposed to be in universities. Some have deferred for the past five years with hopes that help will come their way and they continue with their studies but nothing has been forthcoming.
“With this trend, their future is being ruined [as they watch] as other regions progress in education,” said Mr Fikirini.
“This is really worrying and action has to be taken immediately,” he added.
Many of these students now face a bleak future in a county already ravaged by poverty, hunger, famine and a high rate of unemployment.
There have also been dwindling fortunes in the tourism and agricultural sectors.
When the students met with their MP to discuss their plight, it was clear that a lot needs to be done for them achieve their goals in education.
Esther Nzaro from Kachororoni Village, who is studying for a master’s degree in computer systems at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), had to defer her studies three years ago and has no hope of completing her degree soon.
She is currently working as a computer lab technician to try to save some money so that she can finish her research but it has all been tough, she says.
“I joined JKUAT in 2014 after applying for my masters in 2013. Immediately after getting the admission letter I went to the university and deferred because I did not have money but wanted to do the course,” she said.
“In between, however, I managed to secure a Sh500,000 loan which I used for course work. The loan was a long term one and after the course work, I had to look for [more] cash to do my research.
“For the three years I have remained at home I have not been able to go back for my research because I have no money. I have knocked doors for the last three years with no success,” she said.
Mercy Kadzo, a student at Presbyterian University pursuing a degree in early childhood education, said she had to work at as a night guard at Ganze Girls Secondary School after dropping out of university.
“Life has been tough for me; I had to work at Ganze Girls for six years,” Kadzo said.
“Later on I had to defer because I could not raise fees. Sometimes the morale is very low after failing to get fees. Something needs to be done, “she said.
Their MP assured them that he will use part of the NG-CDF to pay for their college fees so that they can go back and finish their studies.
“I understand the challenges you are going through. I know the bursary kitty might not be enough to pay for all your university fees but we shall engage other stakeholders and donors so that we get funds,” Mr Mwambire said.