Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) is back to its usual antics of
forcing freshmen to buy the institution’s Taifa A3 laptops. This is not the first time the Juja-based university has tried to pull this act, which it has made mandatory for all first year students.
In its defense, JKUAT says that such devices are mandatory for student owing to the university’s curriculum that incorporates various IT-related and engineering courses. All students, supposedly, will need the laptop for online teaching and examination where a lot of reading materials can be accessed.
While this might be the case, it makes no sense why a parent is
forced to buy that exact gadget in a free world where you can buy a laptop in any shop of choice. This is because parents and guardians have reported cases where they have had to buy the computing machine for students who already possess one. Insane, right?
We have confirmed that it is a requirement for all freshmen to have a laptop (Taifa or otherwise). However, it does not mean that the A3s aren’t blatantly overpriced.
The semester’s pricing for the Taifa A3 laptop is KES 41, 498 that is payable in two instalments. You may think that it is a steal, until you read the specs: it is equipped with an 4th Gen Intel Corei3 CPU (four generations old), 4 GB of RAM, a 500 GB HDD and a 14-inch HD display. These are specs right from 2012, and from a design point of view, the laptop looks uninspired, chunky, unnecessary glossy and aesthetically challenged. In my opinion, this is a 25K device, and if the University was really concerned about helping its students secure computing tools, it would have cut down the price, or at least, update its spec sheet.
It should be noted that for that price, a student expects the computer to serve him or her to the end of a course. Sadly, that is not true especially for engineering student who will be stuck in college for at least five years. Also, IT and engineering students are heavy users who run heavy programs such as AutoCAD, MATLAB and Solid Works, to mention a few. These are heavy and taxing software that Taifa A3 will not run optimally by the time student will need them most.
It is not too late for the institution to reconsider this decision as it harms student more than it helps them in the long run.