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High school students are giving university a wide berth, it’s a good sign for those who care

OPINION
By Peter Kimani | August 19th 2021

Some 14,000 students who excelled in high school have opted to give public universities a wide berth. [Courtesy]

High school students are giving university a wide berth, it’s a good sign for those who care

Some 14,000 students who excelled in high school have opted to give local, public universities a wide berth. Well, some have gone abroad on scholarship, while others have joined private universities in the country. Others are opting to join local, tertiary colleges, which were previously seen as less prestigious.

But these students are well schooled, so they know one cannot eat prestige or invoke it in their resume. They know employers are looking for practical, hands-on experience and that’s in good supply in tertiary colleges.

The snub has plunged mainstream universities into some panic, but what’s needed is more than that. It should provoke serious soul-searching. What’s the purpose of knowledge, and in whose service should it be deployed?

One standout about the usefulness of education as a public good was the Mavoko cemetery land heist. Public officials, almost all of them university-educated, conspired to steal from the public.

And they must have attended the same school, as they displayed a similar attitude. The deal in question was a parcel to expand public cemetery, so they had no compunction about stealing from the dead. A marketer searched for the land.

A land surveyor confirmed its size. A valuer affirmed its value. A soil specialist affirmed its topography. A lawyer drew up a contract. A manager approved. A more senior technocrat signed. And another. A banker wired the cash. And this sleight came and went.

Well, the youth are the future of this country, and 14,000 of them have a different attitude towards education. It might not be much, but it means a lot.

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