Police Clash with University Students Protesting Fee Increment
Students from the University of Nairobi and police clashed yesterday afternoon as they were protesting over plans to raise fees three times the current amount by the government.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha admitted that increasing fees from Sh. 16,000 to Sh. 48,000 could cause tension. However, the CS did add that the decision would only be implemented after consulting stakeholders.
Student leaders gave the government seven days to drop the proposal. Failure to which they would resort to “unspecified means to achieve justice”.
The police threw teargas canisters at the group that had decided to block University Way.
Student leaders argued that the proposal being pushed by vice-chancellors and supported by the National Treasury together with Ministry of Education officials during a meeting with lawmakers on Wednesday is an insult to families. This is due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has caused a widespread economic recession, a loss of jobs and a reduction in hiring as well.
Public university managers say that the institutions are broke even as teaching and research are becoming more expensive every year.
The students feel the plan has come at a worse time because parents and guardians have lost jobs because of the ongoing coronavirus.
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University of Nairobi Student Association (UNSA) President Eddy Mwendwa said that learners were never consulted over the raising of school fees, yet the issue affects them directly.
“The decision is ill-advised and cannot be tolerated. They are making it even more worse for us even as we are struggling to put food on the table,” said Eddy Mwendwa.
Kenya University Students Association Secretary-General Joshua Kibor said that the government is apparently “stepping on a live wire”.
He blamed the ministry of engineering for the scheme to raise university fees.
Mr. Kibor questioned the intention of giving students money for the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) for upkeep when the same amount is to be used as tuition fees.
“How could we sustain ourselves? The HELB money should not be a grant. The Ministry and Parliament should reject the proposal,” he said.
“The fee for University is being increased because the government is using Sh. 14 Billion to fund the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI). At the same time, no money is available to facilitate education,” UNSA legal affairs head Justice Juku argued.
Prof Magoha said that the country is in a bad economic state, adding that raising university fees will put a huge burden on parents.
“Tension has been on the rise among students after reports over the increase of fees,” Prof Magoha said while at Kapsoit Secondary School in Kericho County yesterday.
“We are in the middle of a pandemic. The issue came from Parliament but we have not discussed it with other players,”
He said that every Kenyan is enduring an economic recession due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is and just to raise the fee amount after 30 years but there has to be a discussion over the same and then a consensus. The issue has to have a human face,” added the CS.
CS Magoha also revealed that the government will not make a decision that causes unrest amount of students.
The CS also said that the government has started the release of the Sh. 1.9 Billion to carpenters who have been working on the desks project. The sum was inserted into the economic stimulus package.
The carpenters have made desks and lockers and delivered thousands of public secondary and primary schools across the country.
Prof Magoha revealed that payment began in Nairobi and Kiambu at the beginning of this week.
“I am assured by officials in the Ministry of Education that documents for the payment and audit will be delivered in Nairobi. Our officers will work during the weekend. The contractors shall receive money via MPESA,” said Cabinet Secretary for Education Prof George Magoha.
He urged relevant officers to speed up the payment by inspecting and verifying the deliveries.