Varsity students reject new laptops rule – Daily Nation

Hundreds of first year students at Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology (JKUAT) on Tuesday accused the administration of forcing them to buy laptops from the institution.

A letter sent to parents together with the admission form says it is mandatory for parents to deposit Sh41,500 in two instalments into a JKUAT Taifa Laptop Account alongside the tuition fees.

“It is a requirement that all students should have a laptop,” reads a statement in the fee structure.

The fee structure states that parents must make an initial deposit of Sh22,000 and a second of Sh19,000 for the gadgets.

Parents asked why they were being forced to buy the gadgets from the university when they could buy them for as little as Sh20,000 in other outlets.

“Some of us even have old laptops that our children can use but the administration won’t listen to us. This is unfair and exploitative,” said a parent.
Other parents claimed the university was trying to clear its old stock of laptops by forcing them on first year students.

“Why did the university not open a shop in town where we can buy the laptops. The manner in which this whole thing is being conducted is questionable,” said Mr John Kang’ethe.

Going by the number of students being admitted — 4,700 regular and 6,000 self-sponsored students — the university stands to rake in about Sh500 million.

At some point, the administration halted registration of students that had not deposited the initial amount as most parents vowed not to pay.

LOCALLY ASSEMBLED PRODUCTS

The administration, however, maintains that every student must use a laptop provided by the university.

“These are special laptops whose parts were imported from different countries and assembled at JKUAT. Kenyans must learn to embrace locally assembled products which might cost a few extra dollars but will pave the way for us to enter into manufacturing,” said Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academics, Prof Romanus Odhiambo.

The university said the laptop programme, dubbed Taifa Technologies Inspiring Africa, was started three years ago to ensure first year students have the gadgets before they start their courses, all of which have ICT as a mandatory unit.

The university said the initiative was born six years ago when it was realised there were disparities between students who had prior exposure to computers and those with none.

Prof Odhiambo said to bridge that gap, the university would every year purchase desktops for the new students at a cost of between Sh50 million and Sh100 million but the university could not sustain this.

The university boasted of being the only university in the country with a laptop assembling unit that sets up a platform for local manufacturing of the gadgets in the country.

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