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College students take up side jobs to cater for their needs.

EDUCATION IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS, so goes a popular motto in a good number of schools in Kenya. The number of working individuals who are taking up evening classes to advance their educational levels has also risen considerably over the years, a clear indication that indeed education is seen by many as a key element in order to excel in life.

Traditionally, after completing high school, a fortunate student gets to attend university, or a middle level college, to purse a degree or diploma course in a career of their choice. In a normal set up, a student takes four years in university and at least two-and-a- half years in college for a diploma.

Modern times however have seen a good number of both full time university and college students take up side jobs in order to supplement the ‘little’ that their parents offer and the outcome of this has been massive cases of absenteeism in learning institutions.

According to a small survey that was conducted online by this Forum’s correspondent, a good number of students revealed that the most important thing their parents give priority to is school fees and if you are lucky enough some pocket money which is hardly enough to live on, the rest is up to them.

NGAI MUGENDI, a second year ICT student at the Meru National Polytechnic falls under this category. He say’s that if he could have it any other way, he would stick to class until he graduates but tough times have left him with no option.

“I have to get pocket money by myself since my old grandparents who pay my fees cannot afford to cater for my other needs”, he said, adding that the jobs are just random and not related to his field of expertise.
Mugendi acknowledges that he ends up missing about eight hours of class hours a week hence putting a strain on his class work.

Anne Mwende on the other hand asserts that her single mother who is struggling to pay her college fees is sometimes even unable to provide for her transport to school and back home so she has to look for promotions and anything else she can do that doesn’t require experience, to add to what her mother manages to provide.

“I understand my mum’s situation really, as she has my other siblings to take care of and I have to help my self where I can. Plus as a teenager in today’s society your demands are so high. As a girl, you still want to be among the best dressed in school, eat well and attend the coolest events in town so that you also have something to talk about”, she says.

Although sailing in the same boat with other students interviewed, Jackson Makaveli, a Communications student at Kenyatta University, is in slightly different situation; he is a full time student  but he runs an electronics business on the side, supplying gadgets such as  phones and accessories, laptops, modems, and installing software’s to fellow students.

“I started the business because I needed more money for upkeep because the amount I was receiving from my parents wasn’t enough and there was also a ready market for such products in campus”, he says, adding that since he operates the business online and his hostel room doubles up as his office, he just takes orders and does the delivery in his own free time so he doesn’t miss any classes.

These reasons notwithstanding however, student absenteeism has a negative impact on a student’s academic performance generally.

“Indeed student absenteeism is a serious concern affecting the academic performance of students since they miss out on most of the instructional classes and opt to memorize the notes of their colleagues in order to pass the exams”, said Rogers Meroque, the Head of Department for Journalism at Nairobi Institute of Business Studies (NIBS. “ You find that such a student performs well or averagely in the written examinations but fails to demonstrate the skills acquired in training”, adding that such an individual’s eventual contribution to the labour market is very minimal if any.

Even though Rodgers acknowledges that some of the reasons cited by students are genuine, he is opposed to the idea of hustling at the expense of class work.

“With the advent of devolved governments, genuine cases should approach their local leaders for bursaries, JAB loans or even scholarships. Those who cannot access such facilities should defer their courses and resume when they have saved enough to take them through”, says Rodgers.


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