African economies could improve their global competitiveness by prioritizing and mainstreaming science, technology and innovation. That was the message echoed by various speakers during the joint graduation ceremony of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) and the Pan African University Institute for Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation (PAUSTI). It was the second time the two institutions were holding a joint convocation ceremony, the first, having been staged in November 2014.
Addressing the ceremony, Education Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Fred Matiangi said JKUAT and PAUSTI had positioned themselves to play a critical role in advancing Africa’s transformation agenda. He noted the increased number of doctorate graduates by JKUAT at 68; and lauded PAUSTI for producing the 42 masters graduates drawn from 16 African countries.
The CS further commended JKUAT on winning another bid to host the regional Maritime Technology Centre (MTCC) for Africa; through which the institution will spearhead research and capacity building towards mitigating harmful effects of climate change in Africa.
To further strengthen Kenyan universities, Dr. Matiangi said the government intends to roll out the differentiated unit cost model of funding beginning the next financial year. The mode will see varsities funded based on the nature of programmes they offer and enrollment. The CS was represented at the ceremony by Assistant Director, Archer Arina of the Ministry.
JKUAT Chancellor, Prof. Geoffrey Maloiy, applied research and innovation was key to the realization of Africa Agenda 2063. He noted the quality of research outputs including patents by PAUSTI and JKUAT students.
Prof. Maloiy also cautioned the youth against the pitfalls of emerging technologies such as social media. He instead urged Africa’s young to use their energy and talents in a constructive manner.
On his part, the Pan African University Council President, Prof. Tolly S. Mbwete said PAU was a premier university seeking to provide wholesome postgraduate education geared towards the achievement of a prosperous, integrated and peaceful Africa.
He commended PAUSTI implementing partners namely: Government of Kenya, the African Union and the Government of Japan for steadfast support that had enabled east African hub of the continental university to consolidate admirable progress.
JKUAT Council Chairperson, Prof. Paul Kanyari said the Council had heightened infrastructure development and upgrades to cater for the increasing number of students at JKUAT and PAUSTI.
He however lamented that the ongoing reforms in the education sector will see the University receive a significantly reduced number of self-sponsored students this year; a situation that he said could lead to an income shortfall of close to Kshs.1billion.
Echoing the ceremony’s theme of mainstreaming research and innovation for sustainable development, Vice Chancellor Prof. Mabel said JKUAT, through NACOSTI funding, was developing appropriate technologies to foster agro-processing in the coconut industry.
Prof. Imbuga equally reported that JKUAT had secured government approval to supply digital learning devices to private schools in the country.
On University-Community collaboration, Prof. Imbuga said JKUAT had offered 12 scholarships to deserving students from each sub-county in Kiambu. The University, she added, had also trained 150 youth from Kiambu County on entrepreneurship and access to Government procurement opportunities.
Like the other institutes of PAU, PAUSTI offers fully funded scholarships at masters and PhD levels in areas such as biotechnology and molecular biology, mathematics, and engineering.