William Tsuma, 23, has been out of Technical University of Mombasa (TUM), where he was studying civil engineering for a year for lack of school fees.
He joined TUM in July 2016, but his sponsor, an MP who had pledged to be paying the Sh70,000 fee every term only did that for his first year. Tsuma was sent home in his second year of study.
The student, who scored A- in the 2013’s KCSE examination has turned to menial jobs to fend for himself. The last born in a family of 11 says his parents cannot afford his college fees. His unemployed father is disabled and therefore unable to take up some jobs, while his mother relies on subsistence farming to fend for the family.
Tsuma’s brothers all work in the matatu industry and live from hand to mouth. “None of my siblings got to high school. I almost followed the trend when, in my second year, my parents could not afford my school fees and I dropped out,” he says.
He always dreamed of being working at a construction site but in a different capacity. He hoped to be steering the construction course and not the heavy pick-axe under the scorching sun of Mombasa.
His command of English is good, and his eyes shine with hope, as he opens up about his life. He recounts his determination to get a good education. In 2009, he joined Jaribuni Secondary School in Kilifi, but dropped out for lack of fees in second year. He was at home in 2010 and resorted to doing menial jobs at 15 years to raise some funds. In 2011 he joined Ribe Boys High School, where he sat the KCSE examinations in 2013. When the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) selected him to study Actuarial Science at Kisii University, Tsuma was elated.
“That was the biggest achievement and a relief from the burden of paying school fees. I could see my dream so close. But that also got stuck in the pipe,” he said. He was to join Kisii University in September 2014, but on the day of his admission, he lost his sight. “I had arrived a day earlier and checked into a guest house for the night. When my 5am alarm went off, it was still dark. I turned on the lights, but when I still could not see, I assumed there was a blackout,” he said. William said he groped to the window, pulled the curtains aside, but it was all dark even though he could hear cars hooting and people moving. sight messed The problem, as it turned out later, was his sight. He went back home in Kilifi, where he sought help. Tsuma returned to Kisii University, but a few weeks to end of semester examinations, his sight problem recurred. That is when he decided to look for a university closer home. He joined Technical University in July, 2016 for a module II programme after the MP offered to pay the Sh70,000 per semester.
Funds from the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb), which Tsuma qualified and applied for, have not been forthcoming. Local leaders, among them the MCA, had promised to secure him a scholarship, but all he can do, for now, is wait.
“There are days when I’m so depressed that I can’t be productive but I still dream and hope for the best,” he said.