How do you get into medical school? For a long time only government-sponsored students were given such an opportunity. These were the lucky few students who had not only outstanding grades but in addition had the fortune of being selected for the course.
I say lucky few as there were many who had the grades to qualify for medical school but were not fortunate enough to be picked by the Universities Joint Admission Board.
As such a medical class used to consist of approximately 80 students selected from the whole country where over 200,000 students sit for the national exams annually.
But what happened to that student whose dream was to become a doctor yet due to some unforeseeable misfortune is unable to perform to his capacity? What happened to that student with outstanding grades yet he was not selected amongst the 80?
Perhaps it is such questions that led to the introduction of self-sponsored students even in the school of medicine, though it took slightly longer in comparison to other courses. Finally, more students were availed the opportunity to pursue their dreams. But it's not that easy.
If you are fortunate and happen to be selected to pursue the course as a government-sponsored student, you have a lighter load to bear. In true definition of the term, the government pays for your accommodation and tuition fees.
You part with Sh28,500 in the first year and Sh26,000 for subsequent years and a little extra to meet your nutritional needs and supplementary books if you choose not to rely on the library.
Sometimes it's not really a choice as you shall find with only two copies of an 'in-demand' book, you can hardly claim to have a fully stocked library at your disposal.
Worse still, you can't brag of being 'up-to-date' as perhaps the most recent publication will be the daily newspapers, but luckily in the field of medicine, the location of the heart won't be changing in the next five or a hundred years, or we hope not. For Higher Education Loans Board beneficiaries, you simply part with Sh8,000.
Self sponsored students have to cater to their own needs. In the first year, you part with Sh 474,500 and for subsequent years Sh464,500. If you happen to be a Helb beneficiary, you will at least pay Sh400,000.
With accommodation, food and textbooks to buy, I leave it to you to make the final estimate. Do remember it takes five to six years of medical training before you can officially back up your claims of being a doctor with an authentic degree.
But why do I relate to you the financial burdens behind becoming a doctor? When word went around that there are 'plans' to increase the fees of medical and engineering students, the school or at least the student body was in uproar, more so the self-sponsored students.
The price for following their dreams was proving too costly and perhaps it was time for the students to stand together (read as walk together peacefully) in solidarity.