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Magoha comes under fire for mixed message on opening date

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A Member of Parliament is the latest stakeholder to criticise the Ministry of Education’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic that has paralysed learning in learning institutions.

National Assembly Education Committee chairperson Florence Mutua yesterday accused the ministry of failing to offer leadership. “A key ministry like that of Education that is looked upon by thousands of Kenyans should not be blowing hot and cold. We need a clear stand on issues,” said Ms Mutua.

The Busia Woman Representative joins a long list of education stakeholders who have previously railed at the ministry for “creating confusion” in the crucial sector, citing “inadequate consultations, inept messaging and lack of direction.”

According to the stakeholders, five months after President Uhuru Kenyatta shut all learning institutions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease, the ministry has been responsible for raising anxiety levels in parents and learners owing to a poor communication strategy.

Even as the ministry came under fire, it emerged that Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has convened another stakeholders’ meeting for September 14 to review the reopening measures.

Those who are expected to be in attendance include members of teachers’ unions and associations, parents’ bodies, Teachers Service Commission (TSC), religious organisations and representatives from the Ministry of Health. The meeting follows a court ruling that suspended the TSC’s roll-out of a community-based learning programme in which teachers were expected to engage children and help them acquire practical life skills.

READ ALSO:   KCSE 2019 results to be released today

Justice James Makau stopped the programme after a parent accused the ministry of failing to subject it to public participation.

But nothing has elicited more debate and disgruntlement than the fate of national examinations and failure by ministry officials to fix a firm date when schools will reopen and learning can resume.

A well-attended education stakeholders’ meeting in July, chaired by Prof Magoha, resolved to declare this year’s academic calendar lost due to Covid-19 ?restrictions. The meeting agreed that this year’s national examinations be suspended to next year September, dealing a major blow to 1.8 million candidates who were expected to sit this year’s KCPE and KCSE test papers.

Online teaching The meeting also resolved that universities and colleges embrace online teaching with physical reopening limited to institutions that will have complied with the Health ministry’s Covid-19 protocols and regulations.

By Standardmedia.co.ke

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Africa

Tough visa rules for students from Kenya, other countries seeking to study in US

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President Donald Trump’s government is planning to bar Kenyan and other  East African students from pursuing degrees in the US by limiting their stay in the country.

The move which is contained in proposals by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will also see students from a majority of African countries barred from getting student visas longer than two years.

This means that the students will be unable to pursue education in American universities where degrees and other certifications take about four years of study.

“If DHS’s new proposed rule goes through, international students from countries like Nigeria, Kenya, Vietnam, and the Philippines would be effectively banned from getting four-year degrees in the US,” US Immigration lawyer Aaron Reinchlin-Melnick, who is a Policy Analyst at the American Immigration Council, warns.

According to the new DHS proposal, students from countries on the State Sponsor of Terrorism List (Iran, Syria, Sudan and Northern Korea) and citizens of countries with over 10 per cent overstay rate will be limited to the two-year student visa.

“Most of those countries would be subject to restrictions because of the “10 per cent visa overstay” threshold,” Mr Reinchlin-Melnick tweeted.

The majority of the affected countries are in Africa and others in war-torn countries in Asia. The list seems, however, to avoid countries dominated by white people, especially in Europe.

READ ALSO:   KCSE 2019 results to be released today

Students who will be affected by the new rules include those from Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, South Sudan, Somalia, and Ethiopia.

Other than the East Africans, students from countries such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, DR Congo, Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, Papua New Guinea, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Togo, and Zambia are affected.

Others are Afghanistan, Bhutan, Guyana, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Nepal, North Korea, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Syria, Tajikistan, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Yemen.

Although the students would be able to ask DHS for an extension of their visas past two years, those extensions will not be guaranteed.

In its explanation, the Department says that its intention is to fix a major problem on students overstaying their welcome in the US.

But an analysis of the Department of Homeland Security points that only 32,023 people were suspected of overstaying a student /exchange visa last year.

Overstayed

Whereas the Trump government argues that the rule to restrict some countries is based on the percentage of students who overstayed, countries with the highest number of overstays like China, India, Brazil and Canada are not included in the punitive list.

READ ALSO:   No more new public varsities: Magoha

A downward trend is also developing as fewer students from other countries are enrolling in US colleges and universities, according to a study published recently by a State Department bureau and Institute of International Education, a New York-based NGO.

Last year’s 0.9 per cent drop in new enrolments of international students continued since the start of the Trump administration in 2017.

A spate of gun violence in a number of States especially targeting black population is also reported to have a number of parents reconsider sending their children to the US.

Kenya ranks third among sub-Saharan countries and the first in East Africa and followed by Ethiopia in the number of students attending US colleges or universities.

Nigeria leads the pack with a total of 13,423 students last year, an increase of nearly six per cent from the 2017-18 academic year followed by Ghana.

In July, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that students on non-immigrant F-1 and M-1 visas who attend universities that operate entirely online amid the Covid-19 pandemic may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States. It meant students under the category were required to return home.

The order was however rescinded after a public outcry.

-The EastAfrican

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Africa

Why all the hullabaloo about the 2-year US student visas for Kenyans?

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BY BOB MWITI

There has been a lot of outcry about the latest news that Kenyan students will be getting 2-year US student visas instead of 4 years as it has been the case before. I have received several messages from my followers asking clarification on what this means.

 

It is said that the main reason for the latest student visa changes is because Kenya is one of those countries whose students have notoriously overstayed their visas. Quite true though!

 

Well, rather than create a fuss about this drastic change by the US government, let’s first of all ask ourselves, why do we overstay our visas, and how can we solve this issue of visa overstay.

 

I will first address the overstay issue before I give you my view on the ramifications of the new 2-year visa changes.

Please note that this post may make some people “catch feelings”, but that is fine.

 

Someone with an organization that deals with student matters in America, I have an obligation to educate those prospective smart international students who religiously follow me and consume my content. If you are not one of them, it is fine, just pass this!…Ok?

 

You see, us Africans never talk about undocumented immigrant issues openly here in America, mostly because they affect almost every one of us. Almost every household know one or two people who do not have the right immigration papers, and therefore it is an extremely sensitive topic to address.

 

However, people back home need to know these things so that they can make an informed decision.

Here in the US, about 30-40% of African immigrants do not have the right immigration papers. Meaning they live and work in America illegally.

 

One interesting fact is that majority of this group of our people came to America as International students. They never crossed the border illegally!

 

They went to the embassy, were given a visa and were admitted at the US airport, but somehow, they found themselves in this situation of not having the right immigration documents.

 

I have always said this a million times, that as an international student, one of the most challenging thing that you will ever face if you want to live and work in USA is to figure out how to transition from a student to a permanent resident.

Majority of our students come here blindly without really thinking about how they will make that transition. No one tells them before they leave Africa. They come here and then they are surprised with what they must do.

 

One of the major problems us Africans have and continue to make the same mistake repeatedly, is coming to USA without enough funds to take care of our studies as international students.

READ ALSO:   Magoha finds empty seats on first day

 

You know how we normally do it? We get just enough to push us through school for one semester, and then hope that we will be able to work and pay for the school fees.

 

Who told you that you can earn enough to pay for your school fees? Do you know how much it costs to study here? Do you know that as an international student you are only allowed to work 20 hours a week on a minimum wage and that this kind of money is barely enough to pay your rent?

 

You see, if we keep making the same mistake, we will continue suffering as international students.

If you are a smart prospective international student, you need to make sure that you have enough funds to push you through school in America. If not, you will drop out of school and fall out of status and once you do that, you will become an illegal alien.

 

The consequence of being an illegal immigrant is that it is extremely hard to work in corporate America, even if you are smart. You will end up working those odd Jobs that a lot of Africans do. They do those jobs because, those are the only jobs one can do if they do not have the right papers.

 

Now, you may ask yourself, how do you get enough funds to take care of your education in America?. There are options for unsecured international student loans and loans that require a cosigner. This is a great option for needy smart student who want a US education.

 

When I came to US as an international student, I realized majority of Indian students study in the US on student loans. Only Africans do not….and these Indians complete their studies and work good jobs in corporate America. Such jobs come with work visa, and most of these work visas are taken up by them.

 

The US government offers 140,000 employment-based green cards every year and each country is allotted 9,800 of those visas, yet very few of us Africans get them. 80% go to Indians!…..Reason being, Indians complete their studies, and remain in good standing under the law and therefore are able to transition seamlessly.

 

Most Indian students know what career trajectory they will take, even before they land here. One time I asked an Indian friend of mine that I was working with, if before he came to study in USA, he knew whether he would be doing the same IT consulting job he was doing at that time.

READ ALSO:   KCSE 2019 results to be released today

Do you know what he said?…”heck yea!..I knew it!”

 

Guess what?, for me when I left Kenya, I had no idea what would happen to me after I got to America. I came here blindly like millions of other Africans do. Vastly different from what these Indians do. No wonder they are many steps ahead of us on so many levels.

 

Indians are richest group of people in America. They make more than the white Americans, and yet they came to USA as immigrants just like us……and majority came as students on student loans!!..Yes!..Student loans!

 

Very few Africans get permanent residency through employment, and yet it is one of the easiest ways to transition from a student to a skilled worker in USA.

 

Unless we figure things out, we will keep struggling in getting the right immigration papers in USA.

 

Now back to the 2-year visa issue. In one of my episodes on my popular show “Success with Bob Mwiti”, I actually addressed the issue of what a visa and an immigration status mean.

 

So, let me clarify, A visa is just a stamp you get on your passport that allows you to leave you country and seek admission at the port of entry here in the US.

 

Once you land here in the US as s student, you must attend the school and maintain your immigration status as a student. Key word here is MAINTAIN. Failure to do so will make you become an illegal alien and if you are caught you may be deported.

 

So, what really matters once you are here in the US as a student, is that your immigration status is current as shown on your SEVIS record which is tied to your I-20 document not your visa stamp!!..ok?

 

Let me clarify this a bit, let’s say you have 5-year visa like it was before, and you come here and drop of out of school due to school fees issues after one semester. Then even though you had 5-year visa stamp on your passport, you will be out of status and you could be deported.

 

Now assume, you got 2-year visa on your passport, and you came for a 4-year undergraduate program and you have been studying smoothly, and by the 3rd year, your visa has expired. What that means is that, even though your stamp is expired, you will still be fine because your immigration status as shown on your SEVIS record via your I-20 is still intact. What matters is your SEVIS record on your I-20 document!

READ ALSO:   Rip-off as school uniform cartels charge Sh1,000 for underwear

 

The only slight concern with this 2 year visa when studying a 4 year course is that, if for any reason you decide to travel outside the US after 2 years, then you will have to attend a student visa interview. If you were in school throughout, you will never have a problem getting your student visa renewed, but if you did not maintain your status then you will be in trouble.

 

In conclusion, what we need to fix is our mentality on the best way to migrate to USA as international students and how to get the funding needed to take care of our education in America.

 

There are abundant opportunities for smart students in America and Indians have figured this out, and yet us Africans keep languishing down there with low paying jobs and lack of immigration documents. Unless we fix that, we will keep on struggling and it will become harder to get these student visas at the US consulates!

 

A Little Bit About Me!

 

I am a former international student in USA and I am a senior IT consultant in the areas of Oracle EBS Financials and Robotics Process Automation (RPA) here in USA. I am the programs director of Appstec America – A consulting company based in Tampa, Florida, USA.

I’ve been blessed to have learned a lot in my career as an IT consultant. My life has truly changed, and I’ve made it my mission to give back and serve others beyond myself.

 

Whether that be helping you to relocate to USA as an international student, train you as an IT consultant, help you start and build your own online business, creating your financial freedom, motivating you to pursue your goals and dreams, to being more productive, to inspiring you to constantly improve yourself.

 

My mission is to get you to wake up to the unlimited potential within you and achieve what you’re truly capable of through my various self-development training programs.

 

On the internet, I openly and passionately share my life experiences and all of the very best concepts, strategies, tools, and resources that I continue to discover that have made a measurable difference to my life, and will do for you as well.

 

Keep your dream alive and never give up!

To learn about our Kenya airlift program, a program that is transforming the lives of brilliant young Kenyans, please go to www.mastersforsmartkenyans.com

Feel free to contact me at success@successwithbobmwiti.com or info@appstecamerica.com or you can call me at  +1 813-573-5619 ext 402

 

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Education

Tricky’s not-so life experience funny

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Dressed in his characteristic baggy grey coat, a red shirt and a short trouser that barely reaches his ankle, Francis Munyao aka MCA Tricky convincingly brings the street boy persona to the stage. But not many people know that behind his chokora persona, the stand-up comedian is a university graduate, a radio host, and a master of ceremonies (MC).

His mother, Anne Kasivi, a farmer in Makueni still marvels at her last born’s achievements. Tricky has managed to settle the family in a good house and make their lives comfortable, one of the things that he considers to be his greatest achievements in life.

For now, his stunt as a social media influencer has been his anchor during this tough Covid-19 period. His YouTube channel MCA Tricky TV has 250,000 subscribers, while both his Instagram and Facebook channels have over one million followers, which has made the 27-year-old a highly sought out influencer.

“He has an upcoming YouTube talk show that has a touch of comedy dubbed ‘Step by Step’. The show is meant to inspire young people to make use of their talents,” narrates Anne

Anne recalls how tough life was raising her three children. Together with her husband, they did menial jobs in the village. As their children grew older, they would too join in the hustle.

“We would clear bushes and cultivate a farm for Sh100,” she says.

Borrowed stuff

But though her son’s childhood was riddled with poverty, Tricky was a bright student. He began school at Ikungu Primary School, Makueni in 1998 until 2005 when a headmaster from Kiambani Primary School, Makueni, poached him.

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“He received full scholarship in the boarding school. I remember borrowing my brother’s old bag for Tricky to carry his school belongings with since I couldn’t afford a new bag,” she recalls.

Even with the hardships, Tricky still managed to hold first position. Since Anne had sold all their goats and chicken to pay for Trickys’ elder sibling’s fees, she had no extra money for bus fare to visit his son, hence she would walk 50 kilometres to see him.

“When at Ikungu, there was one time pupils were going for an educational trip to Mombasa and they were paying Sh600. That was a large sum of money for us to raise, but the headmaster surprised him by paying for his trip. I remember packing for him some sticks to brush his teeth since he didn’t have a toothbrush. For shoes, we borrowed my neighbour’s, but they were big in size,” he says.

The stand-up comedian passed his national exam with flying colours, emerging top two in Makueni county in 2007.

He was sponsored to study in Masai Boys High School in Nairobi, but after Form One, the scholarship ended and that’s how he found himself in the streets of Nairobi.

“The year 2008 was one of the darkest moments in his life, something he doesn’t want to talk about. I didn’t know about him being a chokora. I guess he didn’t want to worry us or feel like he was troubling us,” she says.

READ ALSO:   The shock of Es in 2019 KCSE

He returned home in 2009 and joined Kiangini Secondary School, Makueni. But after an year, he got scholarship again and went back to his former secondary school in Nairobi. Come final exams, Tricky scored an A. He was absorbed in his alma mater as a teacher teaching science subjects.

“The challenges he has passed through in life equipped him to assist his students with their assignments as he would stay with them until late at night,” she reveals.

His monthly salary was around Sh6,000 from which he rented a house and further supported his family. Tricky later received his admission to join Kenyatta University (KU) and was required to pay Sh20,000, an amount he didn’t have. As a result, he deferred his studies.

“He was supposed to join KU in 2012 to pursue biochemistry, but he deferred and changed to mechanical engineering in 2013,” Anne says.

“He was the first person in our village to go to university. Here, he still was an A student and was loved by his lecturers. During long holidays, he would go back home and continue teaching.

It was in his second year that he became the vice chair of the Mechanical Engineering School Association. It was also in this year that his comedy and MC’s skills were honed when he joined the drama club,” she continues.

READ ALSO:   Magoha revokes appointment of Prof Kiama as UoN VC

Breakthrough came

In 2014, Tricky joined Kenyatta University Travelling theatre, which was started by comedians Walter Mong’are and Tony Njuguna.

He became the chairman of the group after a year and through it, he would end up performing for president Uhuru Kenyatta, the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and many other dignitaries such as former US president Barack Obama in 2015.

He auditioned for Churchill Show in 2016. Though he failed in his first attempt, he sailed through the second audition.

What made him get the part was remembering a character who made his life bearable during that dark 2008 year.

“He wanted to show people that even during tough times, there is something one can learn from the situation,” she says.

His chokora role would eventually catapult him to fame. But some of his villagers and critics question his fast rise to fame and fortune. Some naysayers in the village think that he belongs to the famous illuminati cult. Some even thought that they had a jinni something that has made

Anne go slow with her neighbours. “Presently, the people he used to farm for are the ones farming for him. My son always tells us to never treat them the way they treated us and when he does shopping, he always tells us to share with those who stood with us during our tough moments,” Anne says in conclusion.

By PD.co.ke

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