By Karanja Njoroge and Samuel Otieno
Every morning, hundreds of students troop to private colleges in Nakuru unaware that they are have enrolled in invalid courses.
Last month, hundreds of students in the town broke down after officials from the Kenya Medical Laboratory Technicians and Technologists Board (KMLTB) raided and closed several institutions.
They students listened in utter disbelief as officials informed them that the certificates they would get from the colleges would be invalid.
Some of the colleges were located in posh establishments but closer scrutiny reveals that they do not have essential facilities.
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In the town, the colleges are cashing in on courses most popular with high school leavers.
Board Committee chairman Laban Omolo says it launched the crackdown after it was learnt that parents were being fleeced.
He says the colleges dupe students by offering medical laboratory courses that are not approved by the board.
For Michael Mureithi a student in one of the colleges, says the raid came too late.
He says he enrolled with great expectations in one of the institutions for the course after coming across a newspaper advertisement. "I had reservations but after enquiring from the management they assured me that the College was registered," he says.
The course is so popular that students come from as far as Kericho, Nyandarua and Molo.
But many of the institutions say they do not register with the board because of harsh and unnecessary demands.
Some of the colleges visited by the officials including Menengai Medical Training College and Pine Breeze Hospital College lacked facilities.
Board officials accompanied by police during the arrested seven administrators. Among them was the Principal of Pine Breeze Hospital College and tutors at Menengai Medical Training College.
At Menengai 70 students say they had paid Sh40,000 on admission and Sh27,000 for accommodation and tuition fees.
As the news of the crackdown spread, some institutions hurriedly closed. "They are registered by the ministry to offer courses like accounting and cutlery and for them to offer the medical laboratory course without the board’s approval is illegal," says Omolo.
Students pleaded with the board to assist them to join authentic colleges. "Parents have lost a lot of money and we do not know what to tell them," Mureithi says.
During the raid there was drama as tutors attempted to flee. Omolo says by continuing to offer medical courses the bogus colleges are putting the lives of Kenyans at risk.
Only 14 institutions are registered countrywide to offer the medical laboratory science course. "In Nakuru the board has not approved any private college to offer the course," he says.
Some of the institutions, however, accuse regulatory bodies of "sleeping on their applications". "We applied with the board offices two years ago," says a tutor at Pine Breeze Hospital College.
Last year, the Government exposed fake colleges offering degree courses and asked students to withdraw immediately. Singled out among the dubious colleges were Dublin Metropolitan, Sherman University, Vision University, Birchan University and Regional Institute, for offering degree courses contrary to the rules.
"As the sole regulatory agency for higher education, the commission wishes to caution Kenyans against enrolling in post-secondary institutions offering university level education, unless the institutions have been authorised to do so," says CHE Secretary Everett Standa.
It also allowed 48 to offer diploma courses. "I wish to advise those seeking higher education to verify the status of institutions with the commission prior to enrolling," he says.