By FELIX OLICK
KENYA: Kenyatta University (KU) marked its 34th graduation ceremony on Friday as its Vice Chancellor Olive Mugenda outlined rigorous institutional developments that would see it remain a leader in provision of higher education.
Prof Mugenda said the university was striving to become a centre of academic excellence and had aggressively embarked on expansion, improvement and modernisation.
She announced that the university had been selected by the United Nations Women to host the African Centre for Transformative and Inclusive Leadership, a Kenyan and a continental first.
A pioneer group of trainees from Eastern, Horn and Southern Africa are to train at the centre in a few weeks’ time. “I am delighted to note that the renovation work of the building to host the Centre is almost complete.
This would be the first Centre of its kind in Africa. Another of its kind is the Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Centre, Israel,” she announced.
At the event graced by Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi, Mugenda said the university would soon be introducing a degree programme in Petroleum Engineering in a move to respond to the recent discovery of oil in Turkana by addressing the human resource gap in the sector.
“The programme has been approved by the Senate and Commission for University Education.”
“The university has further signed a Memorandum of Understanding with two universities in China and India that specialise in the said area to provide top notch personnel to offer training,” she noted. The don announced that the building of the Chandaria Business Innovation and Incubation Centre is complete and only awaits official opening.
The Centre gives Kenyans with innovative ideas an opportunity to transform their dreams into business.
“The Centre can host 100 innovations, 70 per cent of which will be allocated to KU students innovators and 30 per cent to external youth with innovative ideas,” she said.
Prof Kaimenyi on the other hand urged universities to partner with industry and investors to translate their research findings into tangible products that can earn money for the country and the universities.
“I would like to see more technology developed by universities transferred to the community and more products, cheaper and better as a result of university initiatives introduced to the markets,” noted the Education boss.
Prof Kaimenyi said the expansions of higher education poses great challenges in terms of financing since Government resources are not sufficient.
Mugenda said the university, in collaboration with the Higher Education Loans Board, had announced 100 scholarships, 20 of which will go to students in sports and performing arts to increase access to higher education.
She announced that the KU Teaching, Research and Referral Hospital construction project was underway and would be complete by October 2015.
“At the moment 20 per cent of the work has been done in the hospital block. The structural work for the Oncology centre basement is complete,” she said.
If successfully completed, the Institution becomes the second to have a referral facility after Kenyatta Hospital and Moi Referral.
University Chancellor Benson Wairegi said the University Act 2012 places great responsibility on universities to develop and maintain high quality standards.
He lauded KU for putting in place strategies to provide high quality training necessary for Kenya’s growth and competitiveness.
Programmes offered at the university are continuously being revised and updated to respond to the market demands.
KU aims to ensure the graduands are well trained and competent in their areas of study,” noted Kenyatta University Council Chairman Prof Ratemo Michieka.