Innovation and research hailed during Kabarak graduation fete

Doctor of Philosophy graduates during the 19th graduation ceremony at Kabarak University on December 15, 2023. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Several innovations are set to revolutionise different sectors as students in higher learning institutions set the bar high with ground-breaking ideas.

Such innovations targeted at revolutionising service delivery across different sectors while solving current challenges were the highlights during the 19th graduation ceremony at Kabarak University.

Innovations, including digitisation of antenatal care booklets, electronic voting systems, making ugali from grass as well as solving power outage challenges in airports, made the highlights.

During the ceremony, Kabarak University Chancellor Gideon Moi said that research, innovation, and outreach have been key highlights within the institution.

“Kabarak University has maintained a high tempo of vibrancy in research, cutting-edge, positive and disruptive innovations and outreaches. The University has established linkages with key industry players and other eminent universities across the globe, achievements that are contributing to the spectacular innovations taking place here,” Gideon said.

Coming at a time when the country has experienced serious power outages that have affected sensitive sectors like key airports, a recent innovation by students at the university is expected to solve such challenges.

Through an innovative communication device developed by students, designated staff in an airport can monitor power outages while using the device to alert the pilots who are approaching the airport. The innovation also alerts air traffic controllers and maintenance personnel to help curb mid-air collisions whenever such cases are experienced.

Another innovation that took the region by storm is one where students explored sustainable ways of utilising readily available materials to solve the challenges of food shortage. The process entailed manufacturing flour in a laboratory by using grass as the raw material. Currently, the team is working on refining the processes and ensuring that the innovation meets the required health and safety standards before it is rolled out.

Part of the recent research breakthroughs the university has also managed to come up with includes the innovation of an electronic information system, an innovation that won the Public Service award this year.

The system that was developed in 2018 has currently been adopted by several institutions while conducting elections.

Other groundbreaking research includes a project that entails recycling textile and glass waste to manufacture kitchen, bathroom, and swimming pool tiles.

But even while many students in institutions of higher learning are increasingly exploiting their creativity in coming up with groundbreaking innovations, leaders said that private universities have raised fears that the new funding model poses a financial challenge to students pursuing courses in private universities.

Gideon observed that the model excludes funding of students in private universities, a challenge that he says will impact student enrollment in various private universities.

“We are all aware of the radical shift that has taken place in the funding model for university students in Kenya. In the new model, the government is not funding students in private universities” Gideon said.

He added: “This model will pose a major challenge in the student enrollment and attendant financial exigencies for private universities.”

Gideon said that it takes hours of intellectual engagements for universities to keep up with the upward trajectories.

“It also takes prudent stewardship of finances to assemble the requisite physical and human resources that meet the threshold of statutory requirements. The same applies to excellence in teaching and learning, research and innovation, and outreach activities,” he added.

The ceremony marked the graduation of over 1,800 graduates, among them Chief Justice Emeritus Dr David Maraga who received an honorary doctorate in Law for his contributions in the judiciary and across various sectors.

The event was graced by Common Wealth of Nations Assistant Secretary-General Luis Gabriel Franchesi.

“By dint of his stellar performance in public service and his unwavering Christian faith consonant with the vision, mission, and moral code of Kabarak University, we have the privilege and honor to confer him the Doctor of Laws (HonorisCausa) degree. This is the highest honour the university can bestow on a distinguished and eminent person of the Hon. Justice Maraga’s stature,” Gideon said.

Kabarak University’s Vice Chancellor Henry Kiplagat said that part of the landmark achievements the institution achieved this year included winning the Unesco Chair in Culture and Arts in Education for Sustainable Development.

“This is the first Unesco chair of its kind in Eastern Africa. The purpose of the Unesco chair at the University is to serve as a hub to promote an integrated system of research, documentation, and training activities in the field of culture and arts in education in Kenya and Eastern Africa region,” Prof Kiplagat said.

He added that among national and regional recognitions the university achieved this year included being ranked among the best law schools during the 15th Nelson Mandela Moot Court competition and emerging top in some categories during the Africa regional moot court that was held in Ghana.

In his acceptance speech, Chief Justice Emeritus David Maraga praised the institution noting that the ethical values the students are imparted with set a foundation for more diligent, trustworthy, and hardworking professionals.

“Being a firm believer in credible legal education, I believe that a nation’s judicial system can only be as strong as the education its lawyers go through,” Maraga said.