By Dun Wanga
Moi University students in Kesses, Uasin Gishu County have threatened to demonstrate on Wednesday, March 10, citing lack of HELB funds to help them survive while studying.
The institution’s name trended at Position One on Twitter in Kenya a better part of Tuesday morning (March 9), with hundreds of learners taking to the micro-blogging site to voice their grievances.
K24 Digital understands that the students’ disquiet stems from dry pockets and empty bank accounts due to withholding of funds by the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB), a government agency that provides loans to needy students, who use the money to offset fee balances and buy food.
Moi University Students’ Organisation (MUSO) Secretary-General, Ryan Wandia, told K24 Digital that the learners will take to the streets on Wednesday, March 10 to voice their grievances.
“We’re seeking permission from the area OCPD to allow us demonstrate tomorrow,” said Wandia, who spoke in Kesses.
“Moi University comrades have been suffering. Some have passed out due to hunger. Comrades have been forced to survive on water. We all know that even a lizard or fish cannot survive on water alone. Why have other institutions of higher learning, including University of Nairobi, received their HELB allocations, yet the students’ loan is yet to be disbursed to Moi University?” posed Wandia.
“We have tried to catch the attention of HELB CEO Mr [Charles] Ringera, but he has given us a deaf ear,” added Wandia.
Another student, Arnold Satia, said protests “appear to be the only dispute resolution method HELB understands”.
“We are planning to hold peaceful demonstrations tomorrow (Wednesday, March 10) so that HELB officials at the Headquarters in Nairobi can hear our cry. It appears the options of seeking their intervention through diplomacy and formal channels are not effective. Students are suffering financially; they are going for days without food. How are we supposed to learn well when the environment is not conducive?” posed Satia.
Another student claimed Moi University was the only institution of higher learning that was yet to receive its HELB disbursement.
“We are currently struggling to pay our [house] rent, can’t afford food, or offset our fee balances. Until now, we are yet to receive even a single shilling from HELB. We don’t understand why Moi University is the only affected institution of higher learning,” he said.
A staff member at Moi University main campus confirmed the students’ woes, saying he has “been seeing several learners appearing depressed”.
“Most of these students depend on HELB for survival. When the money is not credited to their bank accounts on time, then theirs is survival for fittest,” said the staff member, who spoke in confidence.
K24 Digital reached Moi University Dean of Students, Dr. John Ayieko, for comment but our phone calls went unanswered, so did our texts to him.
K24 Digital has also sought HELB’s reaction.