Stu­dents in need of help

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - OPINION -

The shock­ing re­port about the grow­ing num­ber of sui­cides in the pub­lic uni­ver­si­ties has laid bare a se­ri­ous na­tional prob­lem that needs to be ur­gently and se­ri­ously tack­led. Inas­much as par­ents and guardians would like their chil­dren to go to univer­sity to gain knowl­edge and skills and build their ca­reers, it is not as easy as that.

For many of these young peo­ple, this is the first time they get to stay on their own away from the close su­per­vi­sion of their par­ents. Un­like in high school, they find them­selves un­able to han­dle the im­mense free­dom they are thrust into. Un­for­tu­nately, the uni­ver­si­ties lack the proper sup­port struc­tures to mon­i­tor the ac­tiv­i­ties of the hordes of young peo­ple. It's hardly sur­pris­ing, there­fore, that some of them eas­ily get lured into crime. Others, freed from the par­ents' and teach­ers' strict con­trol, drift into anti-so­cial be­hav­iour, in­clud­ing drunk­en­ness.

Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est statis­tics, some 12 univer­sity stu­dents have com­mit­ted sui­cide since Jan­uary, which, in­deed, is a wor­ry­ing trend that needs to be stopped. This calls for pro­fes­sional coun­selling to pull the vul­ner­a­ble youth back from the brink of dis­as­ter.

The causes of sui­cides in­clude de­pres­sion, men­tal ill­ness, trou­bled re­la­tion­ships and fam­ily prob­lems. The cri­sis may just have been com­pounded by the re­luc­tance of the uni­ver­si­ties to own up that there is, in­deed, a prob­lem here. How­ever, it is a fact that these in­sti­tu­tions lack the ca­pac­ity to mon­i­tor the way­ward be­hav­iour of some stu­dents on the many cam­puses.

As we have pointed out nu­mer­ous times, the ex­pan­sion of uni­ver­si­ties and the es­tab­lish­ment of many more around the coun­try is a pos­i­tive devel­op­ment. How­ever, it comes with the chal­lenge of lack of re­sources, both hu­man and ma­te­rial, to en­able the cre­ation of a safe en­vi­ron­ment for the learn­ers.

Uni­ver­si­ties, the Ed­u­ca­tion min­istry, other ed­u­ca­tion stake­hold­ers and, par­ents should fully sup­port and en­able the learn­ers to cope with their se­ri­ous chal­lenges.

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