RIDDLE OF ‘MISSING MARKS’ AT VARSITIES

Come to think of this.. You pay SSP University fees for your child for 4 years.. The child skives classes & exams; and even defers studies, to have ‘quality’ time with her ‘sponsor’… She then misses out on the graduation list, citing ‘missing’ marks…!!! Read the devastating story of, one, a Mr. George👇😪_

Photo by Vasily Koloda

George is a primary schoolteacher with four children. He has invested heavily in them and that is why he chose to register his firstborn daughter as a privately sponsored student in one of our universities to study for a Bachelor of Education degree.

Photo by Aadil Ayub

For four years George dedicatedly paid fees for his daughter. His payslip tells it all. He has taken all kinds of loans to pay his daughter’s school fees. George was so excited after the four years for he knew that one burden of school fees was over. He prepared his family and friends for the big day when the daughter was expected to graduate. But his daughter was not as excited as the entire family.

A week before the graduation ceremony, she revealed to the family that she was not going to graduate because her lecturers had not submitted all her marks.

IRRESPONSIBILITY

To George, this was the height of irresponsibility on the part of the lecturers. He wondered how lecturers would fail to do what they are paid for. As a trained teacher, he vowed to get to the bottom of the matter.

Photo by Jack Antal0 – kipanga jam if my friend

He travelled to the university to confront those who had conspired to deny him the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of his labour and he swore not to laugh with anyone. It was on this mission of finding out the truth that George was introduced to the (in) famous terminology of “missing marks” at the university.

George asked all the tough questions in the academic affairs office of the university and almost caused a scuffle as he demanded to be told about her daughters missing marks. The registrar calmed him and called in the head of department and dean of the faculty. They requested the registration number of the student and searched the system on his computer.

FAILED COURSES

Then the worst dropped from the system. The girl had not satisfied the examiners in fourteen courses! She had failed eight courses and she simply did not appear for six within her four years at the university.

With the help of the biometric system of registering attendance, they were even able to see how many times she attended classes.

The system also showed the number of the continuous assessment tests (CATs) that she failed to sit for. The most shocking revelation to George was that his daughter had taken a break for a whole semester in third year and did not even proceed for teaching practice which is a mandatory requirement for those studying for the Bachelor of Education degree.

Talks with her friends revealed that she took the semester off to travel with her “sponsor” for a holiday.

I have told you this sad story because the truth about missing marks in our universities has never been told.

SOCIAL FABRIC

The narrative that has gained credence is the one that blames lecturers and university administration for “missing marks”. This is not entirely true.

The case of George and his daughter is not an isolated one. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of variants of the same story in this country. George is not the only parent who was duped for four years by his daughter. Such stories reveal a deep crisis in our social fabric. They are a manifestation of a generation of young people with shaky value systems. They are, however, victims and not villains. If one has to apportion blame, then it goes to missing parents and guardians. Let me explain.

Most students join universities when they are over eighteen and so parents and society assume they are adults and should make right choices about their lives. We neglect to guide and monitor their progress. But that is perhaps the most critical time in their lives when they need guidance more than ever before.

‘SPONSOR’ CULTURE

Like George, many parents with children at the university assume that their role is simply to pay fees and provide for the upkeep of the children. This is unfortunate.

Thousands of university students have “missing marks” because they also have “missing parents and guardians”. This negligence is criminal and inexcusable. Parents have to take interest in what their children are doing and demand to see transcripts every semester before paying fees for the next semester. The women students are particularly vulnerable. Like George’s daughter, many predators are ready to take advantage of the befuddled girls. With the “sponsor culture” on the rise, there are thousands of rich men who are ready to derail the young women from completing their studies.

The girls seem to be embracing them without shame because they cherish the lavish, but fake living styles they are presented with. The girls are being made to believe that they can get what they want without struggle. They enjoy the designer clothes bought for them, the posh cars they are driven in and the holidays they go for and have convinced themselves that there is no need to sweat in life unless it is in the gym.

MORAL FOUNDATION

The sponsors are usually old men who have made their money and want to enjoy it. We have to re-examine family and other social structures to create environments that help inculcate lasting values in the students. Recent researches continue to show that disinterest in studies is also as a result of drug abuse in universities. The number of university students who abuse drugs is rising. With many students having to find accommodation outside campuses, drug peddlers have found easy prey.

In most cases, they hire houses next to campuses and have many ways of disguising themselves in their trade. Students without strong moral foundations and parental guidance hardly survive the onslaught by drug peddlers. They cannot withstand peer influence and they finally get derailed. Drug abuse does not only make them disinterested in studies, they also expose them to dangers of contracting HIV/Aids.

It is time to rethink the Universities Act 2015 and introduce a framework that brings something similar to the Parents Teachers Associations in secondary schools so that we create a forum that puts together Parents, Stakeholders and Lecturers to engage more deeply and evolve a network that can help parents like George avoid his fate.

Prof Kabaji is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of planning, research and innovation at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology

Jared Oundo

Jared Oundo

Jared Oluoch Oundo, Econ. MU, MEC, is the best-selling author of the famous Chemistry of Success as well as other titles such as Fertilize Your Dreams, Awakening the Academic Giant, Position Yourself for Excellence among others. Jared Oundo is a gifted business counselor, consultant, trainer, excellence crusader and Communication & Public Relations strategist. Over the years Jared has diligently dedicated his life in helping people realize their purpose in life through various mentorship programs. Jared also serves as an adviser to various executives. It is worth noting too that Jared is pious minister and a good governance advocate. He serves as one of the editors and Researchers for this publication. Jared Oundo is also the Editor-In-Chief of various publications owned by different companies.

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