Last week while the guy from Komarock gave us something to laugh about, when he took 30 quail eggs to advance his loins, I was at Daystar University for a radio show. It seemed like luck was on my side, because the following day, the students from that establishment went on a strike. Nonetheless, my brief visit to the Athi River campus was an eye opener- it brought to attention certain tacit differences between public and private universities.
In my campus, if you a security officer dares to ask a visitor to produce his/her national ID when visiting a comrade, two possible things are bound to happen. Either the security officer loses his job, or the campus loses a few windows.
Careful scrutiny is reserved for vehicles, and a rather curious exemption is made for the ladies hostel. In private varsities however, they require all students to wear badges like a bunch of room service attendants. Aliens are screened for explosives and illicit drinks.
Last week was the first time in a long time since I heard of a private university going on a strike; Daystar University. And even when they grew the cajones to go on a strike, they simply blocked the gate to the campus and began singing Kumbaya. If that was say, UoN, Maseno or Kenyatta University, the windmills would tilt. GSU policemen would be summoned, and the neighbouring villages would be counting their losses one by one. But then again, when you think of it, Daystar University Main Campus is on the other side of the earth- the no man’s land between Machakos and Early Man. Not so much would be done; just the wild animals and a few cactuses would be harmed. Now, compare that to Maseno University students who decided to flog their Vice Chancellor over mismanagement of the university. Notice the difference?
Let’s face it; most private universities in Kenya have tastefully modern equipment, facilities and non-educational services like canteens, sporting, choirs et cetera; which should not be a surprise really because of the kind of money they charge for courses. I mean, if I was to cough as much as Ksh. 300,000 a year for my kid to study law, I would expect some level of post-modern learning itinerary. Take Strathmore for instance, the panoramic constructions of Phase 2, makes all other campuses look bad. KU may wag its tail and mention its vista of a library, but that doesn’t come close to what these folks put up in Madaraka. The logic is simple; money talks, but in private universities, it makes a statement.
Public universities may be wanting in a lot of fields, but when it comes down to the core reasons as to why we are in university, private universities gobble dust. That’s why all search engines proclaim The University of Nairobi, despite its shenanigans, as the best higher learning institution in this part of the Sahara.