250 stu­dents report to the Garissa col­lege

We al­ready have 500 on cam­pus and we are ex­pect­ing more, says prin­ci­pal Warfa

The Star (Kenya) - - Counties - STEPHEN ASTARIKO @stephenas­tariko

The first gov­ern­ment-spon­sored stu­dents started re­port­ing on Tues­day to the Garissa Univer­sity Col­lege un­der tight se­cu­rity. The in­sti­tu­tion was closed in­def­i­nitely last year after the April 2 al Shabaab at­tack that claimed 148 lives, most of them stu­dents.

The Ed­u­ca­tion min­istry and the Moi Univer­sity se­nate met on De­cem­ber 9 and agreed to re-open the col­lege. It was of­fi­cially opened in Jan­uary but only ad­mit­ted pri­vately spon­sored stu­dents.

Ad­dress­ing the press in his of­fice, prin­ci­pal Prof Ahmed Warfa said 250 out of 470 gov­ern­ment-spon­sored stu­dents had re­ported. “We al­ready have 500 stu­dents on cam­pus and we are ex­pect­ing more in the near future. Some of them come with their par­ents, who spend the night in the hos­tels. They are very happy with the se­cu­rity mea­sures put in place,” he said.

SE­CU­RITY WALL COM­ING UP

Warfa said a po­lice post has been built on the cam­pus and is manned 24-7. He said work on a Sh200 mil­lion se­cu­rity wall will start in two weeks. The col­lege also re­ceived a Sh2 mil­lion bio­met­ric se­cu­rity sys­tem that cap­tures the fin­ger­prints and de­tails of all those who en­ter the in­sti­tu­tion.

Stu­dents in­ter­viewed ex­pressed sat­is­fac­tion with the se­cu­rity ar­range­ment. Sa­muel Gi­tau, a first-year stu­dent pur­su­ing a bach­e­lor in com­merce, said his fam­ily was re­luc­tant to let him travel to Garissa. He comes from Ki­tale town.

“They only al­lowed me to board the bus after I con­vinced them. It is my hope and prayer that such a thing [at­tack] will never hap­pen again in our coun­try. I’m look­ing for­ward to leav­ing this in­sti­tu­tion with my de­gree in four years,” he said.

Den­nis Mu­tuma, a first-year eco­nomics stu­dent from Machakos county, said one can meet death any­where and it is God who pro­tects mankind.

But oth­ers who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity said they only agreed to join the col­lege be­cause they are spon­sored by the gov­ern­ment. “I feared I might lose the chance if I didn’t come. But given the op­tion I would not have come here. That is the fact,” one stu­dent said.

Warfa thanked all those who sup­ported the col­lege. “We want to thank the gov­ern­ment, the me­dia, the lead­ers, par­ents and all the oth­ers who helped us move through the dif­fi­cult pe­riod. As an in­sti­tu­tion, we would not have man­aged to over­come this on our own,” he said.

/REUTERS

Shamsa Abdi Bare, a thirdyear stu­dent at the Garissa Univer­sity Col­lege, stud­ies pri­vately in a lec­ture hall as stu­dents re­turn to the cam­pus in Garissa, Jan­uary 11

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