Kenyan Students Abandoning EAC Universities on Helb Loans

The number of Kenyan students studying in East African Community (EAC) universities and receiving funding from the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) has plummeted to less than 100.

Let’s put this into perspective. Just six years ago, we had a whopping 15,000 Kenyan students seeking opportunities across our EAC borders. But now, it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. The higher education sector has seen significant growth over the years, with the number of universities and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions on the rise. With more options available locally, students are staying put and saying “no thanks” to crossing borders.

According to Charles Ringera, the Helb chief executive, the decline in enrollment is evident. We used to have a thriving community of Kenyan students studying in EAC universities, with Kampala International University leading the pack. But today, you’ll be lucky to find a hundred students scattered across the region. It’s like witnessing a ghost town where once there was a bustling crowd.

Now, let’s talk about our education system at home. Kenya boasts an impressive number of universities—39 public universities and over 30 private ones, not to mention the university constituent colleges. We’ve got options galore right here in our own backyard. It’s like having a buffet of education choices served to us on a silver platter.

But let’s not forget the EAC protocol that was agreed upon in 2010. It allowed Kenyan students to be funded under Helb loans when enrolling in universities across the region. It was like a golden ticket to explore the educational offerings of our neighboring countries. However, it seems like the allure has faded, and our students are choosing the comfort and convenience of studying closer to home.

But it’s not all bad news. Our local universities and TVETs have stepped up their game. They’ve revamped their courses to address the needs of the market and have even lowered their fees to attract more applicants. It’s like a makeover that’s bringing them back into the spotlight.

So, dear students, whether you decide to study in your own backyard or venture across borders, remember that education is the key to unlocking your potential. Choose the path that suits you best, and let your thirst for knowledge guide you. The world is your oyster, and with determination and hard work, you can achieve anything you set your mind to.

And to those hundred brave souls studying in EAC universities, embrace the unique experience and make the most of it. You’re like a rare gem, shining bright amidst the sea of empty seats. Cherish this opportunity, learn from different perspectives, and bring back your newfound wisdom to enrich our nation.


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