My perfect university! Food, water, power was never a problem 

University students
University students
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What you need to know:

  • Every building and pavement was lined with distinctly trimmed flowery edges and the well-manicured lawns and gardens were breathtaking.
  • Student delegations from universities all over the world were hosted for conferences, symposiums, workshops, competitions and exhibitions.

There are many universities in Kenya, but then there is The University. I'm directly quoting the words of President William Ruto during a speech he gave at the Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh.

The ancient Latin poet Horace alluded the power of words to instruct and inspire imagination. And so the words "but then there is The University" might make one begin to think about what distinguishes The University from the others.

And in so doing, although one might not have known or seen The University before, they begin to create a perfect image of what they think The University would look like. I am not an exception in this.

I processed a physical image of how the grounds and buildings of my perfect university would look like. The compound was designed to perfection. Every building and pavement was lined with distinctly trimmed flowery edges and the well-manicured lawns and gardens were breathtaking.

I saw top-notch state-of-the-art facilities equipped with the latest modern technological facilities; including libraries, lecture halls, science laboratories computer labs, and office blocks.

In my perfect university, the hostel blocks could be mistaken for a five-star hotel complex. Their exterior designs and patterns were a site to behold. The extensive hallways and corridors were well-lit and the floors were cleaned up to a shiny sheen.

Each student had their own room complete with a bed, closet, desk, chair and bookshelf. I could see the students in their various rooms studying, listening to music, watching movies or having invited friends over for a chat or discussion.

The bathrooms were cleaned, spacious, well-lit and functional. The temperature-controlled shower heads and sinks provided hot, warm or cold water at the push of a button. The sinks never lacked handwashing soap.

The air-conditioned bathrooms never stank. Students from the rooms near the washrooms never complained about bad odour from the toilets. There was never a water or power outage whatsoever because the automatic generators always kicked in.

Food was never a problem at the university.

The faculties, which had extensive tracts of land ventured into organic, smart and highly productive agriculture.

The students studying agriculture-related courses were at the helm of these projects under the instruction of their very able lecturers and professors.

When the produce was ripe for harvest, we'd have everything we needed in surplus (meat, cereals, fruits, vegetables and the list goes on).

With the produce at hand, catering services in each faculty would then have it as their role to prepare meals fit for royalty for both the staff as well as and most importantly, the comrade.

The meals would be sold at extremely affordable prices for the comrade just to cover the production and value addition costs and raise some funds to back university projects. They were so cheap that no student would think of cooking or eating out of campus.

My perfect university featured exchange programmes with other world-class universities. Student delegations from universities all over the world including Harvard, Yale, California, Columbia, Oxford, Stanford, just to mention a few, were hosted for conferences, symposiums, workshops, competitions and exhibitions.

The University also wanted to expose its students to the world, and in so doing, it also sent out student delegations to other world-class universities around the world in countries like China, Canada, Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom and Germany for them to see things from a different perspective as well as acquire new skills, ideas and points of view.

These very competitive opportunities were made available to every student without discrimination or favour.

Moreover, my perfect university reached out for partnerships with other universities, banks, NGOs and philanthropists, just as much as they also reached out for partnerships with us.

By partnerships, The University wasn’t going out there begging for money trying to scratch as much as possible from the global financial moguls and institutions. These were mutually respectful partnerships.

The ideal university in my view was not only the continent’s most advanced innovation hub but also a renowned global innovation centre undertaking cutting-edge technology. An institution from which students, doctors and professors alike would emerge with new scientific and technological discoveries as never heard of before.

Moreover, the projects produced by the university were not just theoretical, laboratory-oriented and sophisticated for no reason setup for the sake of winning awards.

They were projects designed to have a meaningful and positive impact on humanity and our globe at large, and thus creating avenues for investment and large-scale development which in turn create not only jobs but also makes human life easier through invention and production of new products and ideas.

Digitisation was a crucial part of my perfect university. Physical and online learning were not seen as adversaries but complimented each other.

Whereas there were fully-equipped and functional physical libraries, the online library was a more extensive research platform for limited edition materials as well as current affairs. Students were able to access all the notes and reading list books at the comfort of their devices without a struggle.

And come to think of devices. The university had cooperated with electronics manufacturers and refurbishers to provide the comrade with subsidised gadgets such as smartphones, tablets and laptops to ensure no student is left out by the digitisation wave.

All the lessons had a physical as well as online option to flexibly suit all the students according to their preference and situations.

In addition, lessons for all the programmes being offered had been recorded and were available at the university portal for students who needed to repeat the lessons or grasp certain concepts that could not sink in during the maiden lecture.

This would also help students who spend most of their prime daytime working to make ends meet be able to benefit from the lectures at timelines convenient for them.

In my perfect university, student leaders would be elected not based on their social influence, financial ability, friendships and tribal lanes but by the transformative ideologies they put forward to the comradeship. 

In addition, there would not be a winner-take-it all scenario as is in most cases. Instead, every major decisions and policies made would be a matter of logical debate and critical and factual analysis of issues between the student government and opposition until they reach a reasonable consensus.

The students-oriented council served the comrades needs rather than their selfish interests.

Altogether, due to the seemingly heavy financial implications that come with the implementation of this "perfect university" ideology, majority would be swayed to rule it an impossible target to meet.

And I must admit that even I was convinced otherwise when I finished writing this essay about three months ago. But after doing the math, I have concluded that the ideal university is very much within our reach.

Jeremy is a First Year student at the University of Nairobi, Kikuyu Campus studying for a Bachelor of Education (English/Literature). [email protected]