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Worried parents urge action on Kenya public universities lecturers’ strike

By Augustine Oduor and Protus Onyango | Published Thu, March 2nd 2017 at 00:00, Updated March 1st 2017 at 20:21 GMT +3
Lecturers from public universities carry banners and placards during a street protest in Eldoret.

NAIROBI: Parents have asked the government to close all public universities until the lecturers' strike is called off.

Those who spoke to The Standard yesterday said they feared for the security of their children. Others expressed fears that their sons and daughters may be exposed to immoral activities since they are idle.

"I came to visit my daughter at the hostel but I did not see her for two days. Her roommate told me she had gone to visit her boyfriend. This boredom has created loopholes for bad behaviour," said a parent at a city public university. The 48-year-old woman had travelled from Kakamega on Sunday night but only saw her daughter yesterday.

"Let them close the universities and allow children go home. What they are doing now is probably what they would never do when classes were on," she said.

Her daughter said most of her friends were still "hanging around".

Students declined to speak to The Standard on record for fear of being reprimanded by their parents.

But Purity, an engineering student, said most of her roommates had not been in school since the strike begun.

"I know they did not travel home but I have not seen them. It is tough here because travelling back home is expensive. I may opt to travel, then we are recalled," she said.

Liz Okoth, who pays fees for her sister at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) Kaimosi campus, called on the government to end the strike.

"The government is dragging its feet on this matter. There is no official communication about whether or not the institutions should be closed. Our children are idle and this is risky," she said.

Pendo Atieno, a student at Maseno University, said only students in the parallel programme were being taught.

Patrick Mango, whose daughter is pursuing a bachelor's degree at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, is equally worried.

"Since the strike began she has been here. She is withdrawn and we are worried as parents. We don't know if the fees we paid will be refunded or carried forward," he said.

A lecturer at MMUST's main campus in Kakamega who did not wish to be identified, said: "The official position is that learning is going on. But the truth is that it isn't happening."

Gathu Maina, on recess from Moi University, said the strike might complicate his resumption of studies.

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