Joining university after excelling in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations is every student’s dream. There is joy and pride in studying hard and passing national exams to make it to the top ranks of education, but that joy for those who sat their KCSE in 2019 could be cut short.
From the 2019 KCSE examination results, a total of 125,746 students qualified to join public universities, having attained the entry point of grade C+ and above. In fact, the government publicly announced that all these students would join university.
To accommodate these learners, the government now says it would need an additional Sh7.5 billion to finance university education this academic year. An allocation of Sh10 billion was made in 2019 to cater for 70,000 students.
In total, however, our universities are primed to admit a total of 350,000 students, a number that includes those enrolling for certificate and diploma courses. This could bring the overall budget to Sh28 billion.
Faced with an economy that is not so healthy, the government has reportedly mooted plans to raise the cut-off points to reduce the number of students who will be joining public universities across Kenya. If that happens, it will deny a staggering 55,000 students a chance to go to university.
For a government that repeatedly promises to ensure no learner will be unduly disadvantaged in the pursuit of education, this will be a slap in the face of these students. It will also make a mockery of the government’s pledge on the 100 per cent transition to university for those who qualify.
It is inconceivable that a government that has invested a lot in secondary education by providing textbooks and capitation for every student to ensure as many as possible make it to university is behind such a scheme.
The government should fulfill its promise and allow all who have made the cut to proceed to the university.
Doing otherwise would kill the morale of these students who have been preparing to join the university following the government’s declaration that they would all do so.
It would also lower the public’s trust in the government. No, the government should not backtrack on its word.
In any case, Sh7.5 billion is a drop in the ocean in a country with a Sh2.8 trillion budget. Treasury should consider cutting costs in some areas and directing the money towards the education of these students.
Dashing the dreams of 55,000 students who worked hard to get university slots is totally unacceptable.
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