On the night of 19th September 2020, Jackson Kipruto (Not the real name), a fourth-year student at Dedan Kimathi University pursuing a degree in Nursing, was staring at his Dell Laptop before he flipped it closed. He had read enough of what he could that night in preparation for his final exams.
The winds of Eldoret highlands were whizzing through his slightly opened window, keeping the lids of his eyes as open as a day. Deep in his mind, he had measured his life with coffee and movies in his hometown. He was just glad to be alive. His younger sister had been trapped in Nairobi when Covid-19 came without knocking doors.
His career in nursing hasn’t been a walk in the conservancy. You could see that written with huge fonts on the memo that the school had sent him, asking him to report to school on the 21st of September 2020 amid the Covid-19 twist. His wasn’t a case to ponder over. It was a move by the school without questions, the thrill that comes along when you are suddenly pushed into a swimming pool from behind.
Monica, 168 km away and listening to some local radio station, did not have a different story to tell in 2020. She was a finalist in Actuarial Science at Dedan Kimathi University. She remembers the day she received a link to a Zoom meeting with the admin concerning her degree. A meeting that would resolve to have her and her classmates report to school on 21st September so she could take her exams.
She wasn’t worried about the short notice for she knew she can tackle her final units with the energy it deserves. She was just scared that his dad would not manage to raise the finances to cater for her stay in school. Covid-19 had not smiled with her family, they are still struggling to make ends meet.
Further, her mum is scared that she may go to school and contact the virus there. Monica would never forgive herself for bringing the virus home from school in the name of pursuing education. But there wasn’t anything to do. She had thrown enough tantrums in her class whatsup group. But nobody was there to catch her.
0n the afternoon of 7th October, a meeting was convened by the dean of science in regards to the school reopening. In a memo written by the Dean of Science Dedan Kimathi University on 8th October 2020 and addressed to the BSc Actuarial Science 2017 group, students in their final year were asked to make arrangements to report to the university on October 14th, 2020. this date was matching with the day the ministry of education was to issue a go ahead concerning phased reopening.
To your surprise, there are students at the Dedan Kimathi University of Technology waiting to do their exams as of 5th October, this year.
What is happening on the insides of DEKUT’s walls?
In the insides of a classic apartment known as Sunrise Hostels are male students under strict observation. Only one comrade can stay in a single room at a cost of Ksh. 4500. Those that could not raise the charges had the option of selling their cows to a Hindu guy and get the money or they can write an explanatory essay to the school, highlighting their financial potential. The movement here is restricted, you would confuse the university with a military camp, in a bid to enforce a 10 days quarantine advocated by the school. Students are required to prepare their meals or order foods from the school’s cafeteria at their cost.
Less than a kilometer away, scores of girls are under surveillance and locked on the insides of Catholic Hostels. They are sweating off their efforts to save themselves from the snares of the final exams. Armed with masks and words of concern that the school gave a deaf ear, they have submitted their fate to whatever comes may. Whether they will have had enough time to revise for the exams is not a school’s concern.
Dedan Kimathi University requires these students in the school with unclear conditions to have paid their school fees to completion before the exam date. Those that depend on HELB loan will gnash their teeth and pray harder to their God. Those that had their breadwinners lose jobs will have to scratch their backs harder. Even after calling a meeting to negotiate the stay and the exams, their efforts bore no fruits.
Meanwhile, the hazy Professor in charge of the ministry of education is busy making memes at the face of press cameras. With uncertainties prevailing, going back to school is worth a second thought, if at all we care about the lives of our people. While the national guidelines concerning the reopening of schools are yet to be provided, students of Nursing, Actuarial science, and Tourism at Dedan Kimathi University are telling another story. Before you start questioning the legality of this situation, I wish to inform you that Dekut is armed with digital thermometers, spacious rooms, and CCTV cameras to administer and monitor final exams to the above-named comrades.
It takes one virus to shut down the entire world. Just one virus to send everyone home and leave every door shut. But it takes only one school to silence the law, fears, and facts of the virus. Welcome to Dedan Kimathi University.
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