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Parents protest over directive to buy new JKUAT laptops

By Kamau Maichuhie | August 24th 2016
Ann Wairimu Macharia whose son has been admitted to pursue procurement at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology(JKUAT) shows the laptop she had bought for her son. A row is simmering pitting JKUAT administration and parents over the mandatory requirement by the university that all the incoming students buy laptops being assembled at the institution before they are admitted. (PHOTO: KAMAU MAICHUHIE/ STANDARD)

A row has erupted between a university and parents over a requirement that new students must buy laptops from the institution.

Every First Year student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology now has to part with an extra Sh41,000 to acquire the laptop christened Taifa.

Angry parents are wondering why the university is forcing them to buy laptops being assembled at the institution.

The worst part, a section of the parents said, is the fact even those who had already bought their children laptops must acquire 'Taifa' before they are admitted.

The university's Academic Affairs Deputy Vice-Chancellor Prof Romanus Odhiambo defended the move, saying Taifa laptops are ideal for students.

He said the requirement is final and that parents who had already bought other laptops must still buy those the university is assembling.

"We should cultivate the culture of celebrating what is Kenyan. Taifa laptops are ideal for the students, especially those pursuing engineering, architecture and medicine. This is because the laptop has programmes and software that will enable them to learn better. We will allow those who had already bought other laptops to pay for these ones in instalments," Odhiambo said.

Ann Wairimu Macharia said she was shocked to hear her son, who has been admitted to pursue procurement, would not be admitted since she had not paid for the laptop she was informed was mandatory.

"I told the university officials I had already bought a new laptop for my son at Sh57,000 and asking me to buy another one would be a big burden but they could hear none of it. They told me if I wanted him to be admitted, I must first pay a Sh22,000 deposit for a Taifa laptop. I do not know what to do because I don't have any money. I have exhausted my savings," said a distraught Wairimu.

This was the case with Susan Waithera, whose son has been admitted to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Architeture.

"I bought my son a laptop worth Sh70,000 last week in readiness for his admission only to come here and be told I was required to buy another one for Sh41,000. This is very unfair because the one I bought has all the programmes and softwares needed," said Ms Waithera.

Atoo Juma accused the university of failing to inform parents of the new requirement in advance.

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