By Alex Kimutai
The university students were very few during the time I was in primary school and secondary school and we held them in high esteem as role models in our rural society. They were paragon of virtue who should be emulated by everyone for a better life in future. During their long holidays and rare visit to the village they used to share with us great experiences of life in their respective universities
Fast forward to joining university years later that realities started to unfold in my own eyes. From the studies, infrastructure, library and so on things were turning out differently than the perception I had perpetuated by the society. University students in my time may have been victims of degeneration of education due to many underlying factors but still the experience was totally different. here is my experience in university;
First, less activity in the library. My perception was that students throng library in droves to research and come up with innovations. This notion came from the universities abroad like oxford in UK or Stanford in US as for long time you could get news in our radio that they discovered or innovate something and therefore I knew library was busiest place in a university but to my surprise, the local university I enrolled was only busy during the exam period of less than three weeks and normal days there is less activities in there. Myself I can count the number of times I was I library through my four-year degree program.
Second, supplementary exams normal phenomenon, you are inducted as early as year one that supplementary or SUP is normal way of life here and nothing you can about it. Some of the university students don’t give a damn about poor performance as they do not put any effort to improve and gladly toy with idea of doing SUP. For me I used to think SUP is suicidal and those who get are grossly underachievers and lack commitment with their studies. Ironically, I had a unit I was inadequately prepared and almost earned me SUP.
Third, classes ‘bouncing’ and not punctual was more surprising as even high school experience was better off since classes and lessons are well attended and punctual by the teachers. Lectures on the other hand is opposite as some happens once in every fortnight, irregular and not punctual. Classes regularly are not punctual or total fail to materialize at all as lecturers have other endeavors outside town or in a meeting. Syllabus is not fully covered leading to inadequacies in training of the students.
Fourth is overcrowding and dilapidated infrastructure, students are taught in overcrowded halls which diminishes that tutor-student relationship as lecturers totally loses control of class of hundreds of students. My perception was that university students have proper facilities which are adequate and overcrowding with dilapidated facilities never crossed my mind at any given point. With these facilities many students actually could miss classes regularly and not even a single soul notice.
Fifth is exams malpractices by students. Before joining campus, I thought there is less exams malpractices or even no malpractice at all because the people are adults and know what they are looking for but in contrary, the malpractices I witnessed was deeply rooted in the system as students are ill-prepared for exams and end up sneaking writing materials and ‘mwakenya’ to exam halls. There were rampant cases of disciplinary cases as a result of the exams cheating leading to suspensions and discontinuations.
In conclusion, I faced a totally new reality in my time in university as my expectations turned out to be misplaced representation of the reality. The society is having myths about university students and until one goes through the experience, they many never bury these myths and face the reality.