By John Ngala
In past years, The University of Nairobi was the pride of Kenyan scholars. It produced globally acclaimed academics, and many of Kenyaâ€™s leaders passed through its doors on their road to greatness. However the state of things now at the institution leaves a lot to be desired.
I recently made a visit to the UON halls of residence after several years and was shocked at the dilapidated state of these important facilities.
The washrooms are in a state of disrepair with terrazzo floors that look mouldy and wooden doors that are rotten. Window panes in corridors are broken and jutting dangerously, if not missing. The PVC tiles on floors are worn out and smelly garbage near staircase overflowing.
Added to this state of affairs is student congestion and cooking in the rooms posing great risk of fire and danger to the students themselves. It is important to establish why students opt to make own meals. Why not provide a safe cooking area then.
Whereas a lot of work seems to have been done externally to tarmac and mark out the roads making them look neat, it was clear that there is a serious neglect of these accommodation facilities. A visit to Hall 4 will illustrate my point. These halls are indeed inferior to many public high school dormitories recently put up to accommodate the increased number of students.
It is not clear why the University administration block should have the latest granite tiled floors and furniture in the market while the halls of residence are left so dilapidated. It is equally unclear why cleaning and garbage collection in the halls cannot be outsourced if the authorities canâ€™t do it effectively in-house.
One would ignore this mediocrity if it didnâ€™t appear to extend to admissions management and perhaps academics.
How else does one explain the fact that students who are expected to report as freshmen on 20th May 2013 are yet to receive admission letters three weeks to the day! Remember JAB selection was made around mid last year and some Universities like Kenyatta, Moi and JKUAT admitted students in September last year.
As a center of excellence, staff at Universities and affiliated institutions like the Student Welfare Authority should not be allowed to offer mediocre services to its clients, the students. Otherwise arenâ€™t these the institutions where case studies are supposed to be generated? And where is the students leadership voice in all this?
John Ngala is a Kenyan residing in Nairobi Nairobi