A motion tabled in parliament seeking to harmonize fee payment by parallel students and the regular students to uphold equity in public universities is already gaining wide support from the public.
The motion introduced by Vihiga Member of Parliament Yusuf Chanzu seeks to prompt the higher education ministry to balance the cost between regular and parallel systems.
According to Angela a Kenyan law student at the Makerere University in Uganda, learning cost for the parallel system in Kenya’s public universities is enormous hence the reason why most people move out of the country to look for cheaper education elsewhere when they could have acquired better education in their country.
“I wouldn’t be in Uganda if education was affordable back at home. Kenya is among the best countries in Africa in terms of quality education,” lamented Angela adding that it was a great move made by the MP.
“I don’t see the reason why parallel students should pay more than regular student, while both parents are tax payers.”
While tabling the motion in parliament urged the government to consider providing public universities with enough resources to enable them lower the cost of university education so that qualified students to get an opportunity to pursue higher education.
Public universities collect more than Ksh.12 billion annually through the self-sponsored students.
Parallel student at a public university will pay more than Ksh90, 000 tuition fees per semester contrary to their regular counterparts who pay less than Ksh20, 000 for a similar course.
“Parallel students should pay less tuition fees than the regular students, bearing in mind that they are not offered accommodation and many other services that the regular students enjoy mostly,” said Nick Mutembei a staff at Center for Rights Education and Awareness.
However Janet Ahenda, a regular student at the University of Nairobi thinks that regular students and parallel should be treated as two different entities.
“It would be unfair to we regular students because by the time we join university, those enrolled under the parallel degree system in the same course are already gearing up for their final year of study, yet we are competing for the same job market,” she says.
Given the limited chances available to accommodate students at public universities against the hundreds of thousands who sit for secondary examinations every year, the government introduced ‘parallel’ programmes as a way of increasing student numbers to cater for those who have acquired the minimum university entry requirement of a C+ but have missed a chance to join the regular system.
Out of the 712,579 candidates who sat the KCSE exam in 2009, more than 600,000 will miss a chance to join public university.
If the motion to harmonize learning in public universities fails, dreams of many candidates with grade C+ and above to pursue degree course will be shattered, with the current parallel system being already too expensive for many Kenyans especially those from poor families.