Blair Nyabuto is a second-year student at the Technical University of Mombasa. He is pursuing a bachelor degree in journalism and mass communication. Even though he is doing a journalism course, his heart is elsewhere- aeronautical engineering. There are many ‘Blairs’ out there, in various colleges and universities.
Less than a week is remaining to the close of the Kenya universities and colleges placement service (KUCCPS) portal for the first revision of courses especially for last year’s KCSE candidates. Yet, even after the revision is over, a large number of the students will be placed in courses that they did not even think of before they sat they exams, because they simply do not identify themselves with them. This is, will be largely attributed to ‘poor performance’: poor in the sense that the cluster points for various courses is more often higher than not in many universities, vis-a vis individual students’ performance. For those who won’t be placed in any university after the first revision is over will have to do a second and last revision, albeit in this one, courses and colleges/universities which they might select will be limited.
The Ministry of Education in 2007 conducted a research which involved Kenyans aged between 30 and 35 years; and it revealed that 66 percent of had pursued a wrong career. The report further indicated that 27 per cent knew not what career to take.
It is more than a decade now since that research was done, but the results stand true today, or even more relevant. It is a reality and truth that most university students today are taking courses that they did not dream of doing. We are going to look about a few contemporary examples of students on campus, who found them on the wrong side of KUCCPS.
Paul Anunda is a sophomore at Scott Christian University. He is taking a bachelor degree in business and information technology. However, he says that he has the least of interest in the subject of his study. In fact, he says that he is just studying to pass exams. And when I ask him about what he could have been happy doing, he opens up and pours his story, and how his dreams were somewhat cut short by KUCCPS, so to speak.
Paul grew up in a place where he could see police parades almost always, owing to the police camp at his backyard home in Nyamira. He seldom missed national days, mainly because he could have a chance to witness the men and women in uniform display their skills and expertise. This, coupled with their military swagger, drew his heart closer to military. Slowly but surely, he grew in love with military. He could also go to the local shades to watch movies, most of which had military activities. Thus, his love for the forces and the things that come with them got nailed. When the love for military became too strong to resist, Paul joined a karate club in 2013. His dedication, determination and love for the subject saw him climb the rungs to the position of the captain.
Thus, when he joined high school, he had already made his mind that he would take a course in military. However, upon selection of courses and placement by KUCCPS, he felt cheated. Paul had missed out to be placed after his first revision. When he was given a chance to do the second and final revision, his choices were limited already and he was forced to take what the system had to offer. He was placed in his current campus, to do a course that he had been hearing, and that he never thought that he could associate himself with.
“I was dumped here. And the university inter-transfer period had expired. So there was nothing that I could do,” he speaks of his predicament.
Even though Paul works hard to post good grades, he says that he sees no future with his current line of study. “Maybe I could major in the ICT part of it; but as things are, I see no hope with this course,” he says.
Paul’s military dreams still ‘haunt’ him. When he could not resist the temptation any longer, he and other a few friends approached the student leader, who assisted them write a letter to the varsity administration, asking to be allowed to form karate club at the university. Fortunately for Paul and company, the school gladly received their request, and they were given a go-ahead. That is how they initiated a karate club at the Machakos-based university. The university administration went a step further and contacted the Kenya Karate Federation, which allocated the club a trainer. The instructor comes around three times a week.
“When we started the club last year, we were twenty members only. However, the membership has increased ever since and currently we are twenty-four,’’ Paul says.
He says that the club has given him solace in his heart, and brought a degree of sense, hope and peace to his mind and body.
“I do fool my mind that I am in the military itself whenever I go for the club training; and that soothes my soul,” he adds. Paul still has dreams of joining the military someday.
Back to Blair Nyabuto’s story. His is a case of overconfidence and laxity, to some degree. He did his selection once, while in school, and never bothered to revise his courses thereafter. In fact, he says that it is his teachers who selected for him, through KUCCPS’s first selection.
“They selected several good courses for me, and included journalism as the last option, since they least expected that I could be placed there, owing to my good performance in class. When the results from KUCCPS were out, the least expected had happened- I had been placed to do journalism,” Blair recalls.
His further felt uncomfortable with it, since he knew that his son could have challenges in the course, owing to its social nature; and the reserved nature of his son.
“My dad could not even understand how I could set out a career in journalism, because it involves talking a lot and interacting with lots of people, which is my greatest challenge,” he says.
However, his mother said that he could learn in the job and that with time, he could get adapted to his new-found course. It was never to be so. Until today, Blair is still reserved, even when he is among his friends.
His dreams of doing aeronautical engineering are still dear to him, and he has applied for several scholarships for that course.
“I am hopeful that someday I shall win a scholarship to go and study engineering abroad. And when that shall happen, I will not hesitate to quit journalism,” he says.
Paul and Blair are examples of many students who are uncomfortable with their subjects of study, even as they progress in their upward journey in the academic trail. This should sound a warning to students who are yet to join universities and colleges. They have to get their priorities right, and somewhat prepare for the unexpected. But how can they do it without teachers’ and parents’ efforts? These youngsters need their seniors, guidance. Those who have charted these waters before should come out and help a soul in need of advice, in need of guidance. If by any chance you were placed in a course you do not like, and you are determined to achieve your first goals, there is always a way out, especially if you are determined. All the best!