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Students in need of help

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The shocking report about the growing number of suicides in the public universities has laid bare a serious national problem that needs to be urgently and seriously tackled. Inasmuch as parents and guardians would like their children to go to university to gain knowledge and skills and build their careers, it is not as easy as that.

For many of these young people, this is the first time they get to stay on their own away from the close supervision of their parents. Unlike in high school, they find themselves unable to handle the immense freedom they are thrust into. Unfortunately, the universities lack the proper support structures to monitor the activities of the hordes of young people. It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that some of them easily get lured into crime. Others, freed from the parents’ and teachers’ strict control, drift into anti-social behaviour, including drunkenness.

According to the latest statistics, some 12 university students have committed suicide since January, which, indeed, is a worrying trend that needs to be stopped. This calls for professional counselling to pull the vulnerable youth back from the brink of disaster.

The causes of suicides include depression, mental illness, troubled relationships and family problems. The crisis may just have been compounded by the reluctance of the universities to own up that there is, indeed, a problem here. However, it is a fact that these institutions lack the capacity to monitor the wayward behaviour of some students on the many campuses.

As we have pointed out numerous times, the expansion of universities and the establishment of many more around the country is a positive development. However, it comes with the challenge of lack of resources, both human and material, to enable the creation of a safe environment for the learners.

Universities, the Education ministry, other education stakeholders and, parents should fully support and enable the learners to cope with their serious challenges.

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