Students Rush to Court Over Upcoming Exams

  • The Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi as pictured on November 18, 2019.
    The Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi as pictured on November 18, 2019.
    Simon Kiragu
    Kenyans.co.ke
  • Eighty Law students at the University of Nairobi (UoN) on Monday, June 29, moved to the Milimani Law Courts challenging ongoing online classes and scheduled exams amid the Covid-19 pandemic citing inequalities.

    “The online program has no access to face-to-face consultation with the lecturers, has limited access to the library and access to physical-based program facilities. It is only fair that the fee is reduced,” the students argued.

    The students urged the court to bar UoN from conducting the online classes until all the stakeholders had aired their voices on the matter.

    According to law undergraduates, the decision to commence the online classes was arrived at without considering that some of the petitioners reside in remote areas with limited to no access to reliable internet services.

    Directional signage mounted outside the University of Nairobi
    Directional signage mounted outside the University of Nairobi
    Facebook

    The University of Nairobi Senate, chaired by the Vice-Chancellor (VC), Professor Stephen Kiama Gitahi, had approved guidelines and procedures for online examinations on May 8.   

    "The Senate relied on the provisions of Statutes- XXV that gives senate the mandate over all academic matters in the University," reads a section of a memo sent out by the institution following the decision to conduct the online curriculum in full.

    UoN adopted e-learning in March 2020 following the government’s directive that closed all learning institutions. 

    During his online address to all staff and students, Professor Kiama lauded the success of online teaching and learning at the campus, adding that the guidelines and procedures for online exams had been benchmarked against global best practices.

    He further stated that the online examination guidelines were developed in consultation with stakeholders including professional bodies and regulatory authorities.

    ‘I want to share a message of hope with our final year students that their graduation will be held as scheduled on September 25," he reiterated at the time.

    However, the 80 students claim that the VC's assertions were false.

    “UoN through its Senate arbitrarily without consultations and pubic participation embarked on an online academic programme,” reads an excerpt from the court papers submitted by the students.

    The government's response to the disruption of learning has been a contentious topic among Kenyans following the Covid-19 pandemic, with Education CS George Magoha recently advising President Uhuru Kenyatta against the reopening of schools at a time when Coronavirus cases are on the rise.

    Magoha highlighted that it would very difficult to enforce social distancing in 40,000 schools with a population of an estimated 14 million students across the country.

    Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha at KNEC Offices in Nairobi on December 18, 2019
    Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha at KNEC Offices in Nairobi on December 18, 2019
    Simon Kiragu
    Kenyans.co.ke