Hopes and fears of KCSE leavers who shunned local university slots

Paul Ouma, Joan Chepkoech, and Hillary Alusiola. [File, Standard]

Financial difficulties and lack of awareness might have cost a section of students who sat the 2022 KCSE examination a chance to join universities and colleges.

The Ministry of Education recently disclosed that almost 600,000 students, who sat the exams, did not apply to Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) to join universities or colleges.

Some of the learners interviewed said they could not raise the Sh1,500 mandatory application fee, while others had no information about the process.

A section of the students opted to apply to join Technical and Vocational Education and Training institutions (TVET) despite having obtained impressive grades, like Joan Chepkoech,19, who got a B plain in the 2022 KCSE.

She was admitted to Kabianga University to pursue a Bachelor of Education, but Chepkoech focused on joining a TVET.

“In high School, being a needy student, I was sponsored by Equity Bank through the wings to fly, but my admission to university stalled due to lack of a sponsor. I am still optimistic I will pursue a course,” she said.

Chepkoech now says she has applied for a course through KUCCPS.

“Besides the TVET, I have also applied for a nursing course at KMTC through KUCCPS,” she revealed.

She said the move by the government to allow TVET applications through the placement board is welcome.

“The placement in TVETs through KUCCPS is God sent since I don’t know how I would have gotten a chance to get back to college after missing out on my University slot,” she added.

Her mother, Angeline Too, said she feels bad she is not able to pay for her daughter’s school fees.

“As a firstborn child, I knew she would come back from university and help her siblings through education,” said the mother of 11. She is optimistic Chepkoech will join TVET and get sponsorship to completion.

In Eldoret, access to wider opportunities to study abroad and frequent strikes leading to delays in academic programs, were cited as key reasons causing students to shun local institutions of higher learning.

Some students claimed KUCCPS allocated them courses they did not choose and that they would not take up placements.

Kelvin Kimutai, a 2022 KCSE candidate in Nandi County who scored a C (plain), said he has already secured a place for a diploma course at an institution in Australia and has already processed travel documents.

“I did not apply for a course locally because it is expensive in terms of school fees, accommodation and food, among other expenses,” said Kimutai.

Speaking to The Standard by telephone yesterday, Kimutai said: “I got a visa to travel for a course in Australia. I will be able to work part-time and support my parents as I progress with my training.”

Internet services

Emmanuel Tirop, a Director at Jaffagate printers in Mosoriot, Nandi County, said most Form Four leavers who flock for Internet services make applications for courses in Australian, Canadian and American institutions, and others look for jobs in the Middle East countries particularly Qatar.

“Several KCSE candidates make applications for overseas opportunities, and most of them have already left the country while others are finalizing travel procedures,” said Tirop.

Tirop said students complain of lengthy time to conclude courses in local Universities due to interruptions by strikes and lack of employment upon conclusion.

“A student applying for a course in a foreign institution told me that his parents calculated cumulative cost of studying in a local institution and found out that it was equivalent to pursuing a course abroad,” said Tirop.

He said those from humble backgrounds fear applying for courses in Universities and middle-level colleges since they are not sure of securing loans from Higher Education Loans Board (HELB).

Another parent said his daughter scored a B (minus) and applied for a Bachelor of Science Nursing and Veterinary Medicine, but was allocated a Diploma in Community Health and Nutrition at Kenya Coast Polytechnic, a course she did not choose.

“She will not be taking the course. We would rather apply for another course at Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC) through its portal,” said the parent, who did not wish to be named. Kelvin Kipkemboi, a resident of Nandi Hills, said his parents cannot afford school fees for him to pursue an engineering course at Ol’lessos technical institute.

“I had a C (plus) but had to relieve my parents to gather school fees for my younger siblings in High school, and probably in the next one year, I will resume my studies,” said Kipkemboi, 21, who is currently eking a living as a Bodaboda rider.

He claimed TVET fees is costly despite government subsidy. Flora Chepchirchir, said she chose to take up short computer courses and driving for her to have basics for self-employment as she weighs other prospects.

“I have not made up my mind on the course to take up, and I opted for short courses. Meanwhile I’m contemplating to travel abroad next year to further studies and I don’t see the essence of taking tertiary education in Kenya,” she claimed.

She noted that her parents are looking forward to gathering for traveling and school fees to study in Australia.

In Nyanza, many students are scratching their heads about their next moves after they failed to apply for courses listed by KUCCPS.

The Standard has established that most students who did not apply for placements were not aware that their grades could also be considered for placements.

While some claimed they had no hopes of proceeding to college because of lack of fees, others claimed they had little information on how to register for placements.

Some schools in the region, including Maseno School, assisted their learners to apply for placements and ensured that they had applied for courses.

In Migori, three students are among hundreds who failed to apply for courses. John Osedo, who is a total orphan, said he did not apply due to lack of funds.

He claimed he did not have hopes of pursuing a college education because of his poor background. His sister Caroline Osendo, who is his guardian, said the student who did his KCSE in 2022 is still at home.

Osedo got a B minus in his KCSE and hoped to join the Technical University of Kenya (TUK), where he wanted to study electrical engineering. He is weighing between doing the course or film production, but lack funds. “We are still sourcing for funds that can help him join university,” Caroline said.

Jared Nyang’au said they did not have enough information about the placements. Another student, Brian Opiyo, claimed he did not apply for placements because the family was exploring taking him to go and study abroad.

In Western, most students cited financial difficulties as the reason they failed to apply to KUCCPS.

“I would have wished to join a college and pursue a Building and Construction, but it was not possible, and I have resorted to doing menial jobs to support myself,” said Hillary Alusiola from Emusala village in Lurambi Sub-county.

Alusiola obtained grade C- (Minus) in KCSE examinations at Indangalasia secondary school.

“At some point, I was asked for Sh700 by my former school to be able to apply, I have a huge fees balance and my result slip is still being held by the school,” said Alusiola.

Alusiola also indicated that he is not well-versed with all requirements set by Kuccps for eligible applicants.

Kevine Lunani from the same sub-county said he was equably disadvantaged because he lacked details about what is required for a student to apply and be allocated a course at college or university.

“I did not perform well in KCSE examination, but I wanted to join a college and pursue a relevant course,” he said. 

By Gilbert Kimutai, Bomet, Titus Too, Edward Kosut, Mary Imenza, Anne Atieno and Sharon Owino