Student life is a very vital issue in the world today and with the ever increasing standards of living especially in Kenya most parents complain about the low salaries that are unable to meet the high standard of living. What they fail to remember is that actually the increase in standards of living affects everyone who uses that money to manage himself/herself and it doesn’t matter if he/she works. By that I talk about students in universities and colleges who depend on their parents/guardians for pocket money. Most parents/guardians are used to telling their kids the term ‘during our time we did this and that’ but what they forget is that times change for example the cost of bread during their time is different from the cost of bread at this time. Due to that term ‘during our times’ parents/guardians give their children a limited amount of money basing their decisions on what they used to be given when in school. This has forced students to force extra cash out of their parents’ pockets to meet their ever increasing demands; most students who don’t get loans from the government through HELB are forced to use ungodly ways to get money. But the blame does not go entirely to the students, it’s partly to parents especially those who have never been to a university or college, they base all their decisions on their past life. But looking at these parents/guardians should put into consideration where their students are because a student in Maseno University does not spend as much as a student in Nairobi University this is due to the cost of living in the two different towns in which these universities are located. Let’s look at the needs of an average student in Kenyatta University:
- A student needs cash for the basic things and by that I mean food, clothing and shelter. What mostly parents take care of is food and shelter forgetting that a student in campus has to look clean at all times. So in order to get money to buy clothes a student is forced to trick his/her parents into giving them more money.
- A student needs cash to take of academic matters, including all those photocopies needed in school, the printing of assignments, buying handouts, browsing the internet for books and journals buying books,e.t.c.I can be a witness to this that parents/guardians never take into consideration this matter though it’s the most important. Even when we students ask for laptops from our parents, they always think it’s for pleasure when in real sense we are trying to cut costs which they are not able to take care of.
- A student may need cash for running up and down to take care of his/her personal issues let’s say he/she goes to town to do some work or let’s say school trips. This mostly affects students off-campus who have to board vehicles to reach school especially in Nairobi where you got to have money to move from one place to another.
- Another need but which mostly applies to off-campus students is cash to take of other issues apart from the basic ones, let’s say buying household items or utensils. Parents don’t take care of this problem and they assume that their kids eat at food outlets and go to sleep when actually they cook their own food in their own houses.
- The last but not list major need and which is supported by the saying ‘too much work and no play makes jack a dull boy’ is of importance to students and unimportant to parents/guardians. Students are forced to forego other needs just to satisfy this one and it includes visiting places, having eat-outs, having fun with friends and of course lovers because this is where people meet their future mates. I know many parents will discourage this but it actually helps cool the mind of a student. This has even made the administration of Kenyatta University to build an entertainment spot in schools and even organizing functions just to satisfy this major need.
Putting these needs into consideration let’s look at the budget of an average student of Kenyatta University in a day:
BUDGET (estimated figures)
- Breakfast ksh30
- Lunch ksh50
- Supper ksh70
- Academic matters ksh30
- Airtime ksh20
- Personal needs ksh50
- Transport (off-campus students) ksh50
Adding up all these brings the budget of an average student to ksh300 a day, ksh9000 a month and remember rent, clothing and entertainment is not inclusive. With the investigation I have conducted in Kenyatta University it becomes easy for students getting loan from the government to satisfy these needs and they also have an upper hand because their parents add them more money on top of that. But for an average students depending entirely on the parents/guardians it becomes so hard, my research indicated that most students are given between ksh4000-ksh6000 a month depending on the ability of the parent/guardian thus the rest of the budget has to be taken care of by the student. If the student has no job or where to get the money from, parents/guardians what do you expect them to do? Of course you are their last option and they have to use all means to get it from you. It may be understable to needy parents but able parents are forced to remove it. This is what even makes most students apply for the HELB loans without the knowledge of their parents.
Students may use the following ways to trick their parents in order to get more money:
- Stating higher fees.
- Informing of non-existing things for example trips.
- Pretending to have lost items in order to be given money to buy others.
- They can also steal from their parents.
- Adding unnecessary expenditures among others.
In conclusion, parents should stop relying on the saying ‘during our times’ and instead wake up to the reality that life has changed and standards of living is increasing day by day. Support your children when they are in school and get the blame off you when they fail because most of them lay their basis of failure to that. To the needy parents we can understand but the reality of the matter is that once you take your kid to school, you must be prepared to take care of his/her needs. To the able parents support your children as much as you can because you always say you work for your children, then so do what you worked for. But parents who don’t want to support their children should not blame anyone when they go astray. At times the school administration is blamed for what actually is the fault of parents. To the government support students by giving them loans to help themselves meet all these needs while in school. You may actually think we students fail because we don’t read when in real sense we are too busy looking for money to satisfy these needs instead of learning. This issue has also led to vices such as stealing, selling items, selling drugs and even students killing their fellow students to get money e.g. In Kenyatta University.
Finally to my fellow students, as much as I support this issue of being given enough money, we should also try to use responsibly what we got and cut costs by avoiding unnecessary spending like drinking alcohol, this applies especially to the needy students who their parents have to go hungry to see them educated but most of all avoid peer pressure and the urge to please everyone. Stay safe and be true to yourself. What’s your opinion on this matter?
By Charles Osore