Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu has challenged the management of public universities and other tertiary institutions to adjust their costs to remain afloat in the wake of shrinking funding.
The CS said the government is committed to implementing the new university funding model to ensure inclusion and education for all.
Machogu explained that under the student-centered model, the students are financed according to their level of need and program.
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"Public universities should re-invent and adjust their costs for sustainability as the country is operating in a squeezed fiscal space. As a government, we support the attainment of quality education,” he said.
Speaking during the Taita-Taveta University (TTU) 6th graduation ceremony yesterday, the CS disclosed that the government had disbursed over Sh5.2 billion to universities as loans for first-year students.
He, however, noted that the government owes public universities more than Sh70 billion in pending bills.
“The new funding model will be implemented and funding will be disbursed without further delay to ensure universities operate smoothly," he said.
Machogu assured the vice-chancellors that the government would continue providing funds for loans and infrastructural development.
The graduation of 650 graduands was presided over by the Taita Taveta University Chancellor Sally Kosgei, where Machogu became the pioneer to be conferred with the Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters for his outstanding achievements in leadership and distinguished service to the country and humanity.
Dr Kosgei was accompanied by TTU Vice-Chancellor Fred Simiyu Barasa and Council Chairman Isaac Mbeche.
Others were Taita Taveta Deputy Governor Christine Kilalo, Senator Jones Mwaruma, MPs Peter Shake (Mwatate), Abdi Chome (Voi), John Bwire (Taveta) and Assembly Speaker Wisdom Mwamburi.
Prof Barasa said Machogu is the first recipient to be conferred with a doctorate honorary degree as a sitting CS in Kenya at the university started 16 years ago.
The VC said the CS has been at the forefront of implementing reforms in the education sector, especially the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC), as well as the enhancement of quality and sustainability of the higher education sector.
“These reforms are meant to improve the quality of education through a multi-pronged approach, namely (CBC), reforming professional teacher development, the textbook policy, and management practices,” he said.
Barasa noted that the new curriculum encourages learners to enhance their innovativeness and creativity by developing knowledge and skills through exposure to challenging situations and experiences.
“Machogu is currently spearheading the execution of the new funding model for education and training institutions," he said.
"He (CS) has interrogated, understood, appreciated, and confronted the complex challenges that have characterized the financing dilemma for public universities in Kenya, with the zeal and precision almost not seen for quite a long time,” he added.
The VC said the CS has advocated an evidence-based, stakeholder participatory-driven approach to problem-solving, and inspired confidence among key stakeholders that a sustainable solution is already in the room.
Barasa announced that TTU has produced the first PhD in Mining Engineering in Kenya.
“It has become difficult to retain such learned staff at the university because they have become globally marketable. Whenever they go for their PhD, they are poached by globally renowned universities,” he said.
The VC further revealed that TTU has introduced 14 new market-oriented programmes, which will soon be launched for the benefit of the county and the country.
Dr Kosgei noted that the university received the charter seven years ago and has gone through massive challenges to grow. She said resilience has been the cornerstone of the growth of the university.
Machogu commended the university for recognizing his work in the advancement of education reforms. “I will continue championing policies in the education system to ensure it is robust and inclusive, and I am looking forward to preparing the youth to the next level,” he said.
“It has been a great journey, and I sincerely thank President Ruto for appointing me to his Cabinet, and I am heavily indebted. I will continue contributing meaningfully to the landscape in education,” the CS said in his acceptance speech on his conferment.