The launching in Kenya of an institution of higher learning intended to mainly cater for the training and research needs of the thriving but often neglected cooperative industry, is expected to give new impetus projected to unlock the sector’s potential, known to support livelihoods of millions of the country’s population.
The Cooperative University College of Kenya, the latest institution to be elevated to a constituent university college of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology is set to receive its first undergraduate students under the Joint Admissions Board in September 2012. The institution was inaugurated, Tuesday, August 7, 2012 at a ceremony presided over by the Chancellor Prof. Francis Gichaga and graced by two cabinet Ministers.
Speaking during the official inauguration ceremony of Council, the College governing body, the Chancellor Prof. Francis Gichaga challenged the team to ensure the new university college stamped its authority in the cooperative development and business skills arena. To achieve this noble objective , the chancellor advised the new officials to strive to inculcate cooperative ideals to their trainees by giving priority to core foundation units in all programmes on offer.
Prof. Gichaga told the top University governing body to ensure the various structures of the university college such as management and academic boards, were established and facilitated to enable smooth running of the institution. He advised the College officials to seek vital collaborations that he said would be crucial in assisting the university college to invest in common projects. He reminded the team to be aware the university was a complex entity that had many leading experts, professionals and intellectuals, ‘ who will support your decisions while others will criticize your actions vehemently’. Council he added should be guided by the instruments that governed the university and cautioned that intellectuals, ‘are able to analyze your actions and they will try to fit those actions in the context defined by the provisions of the various instruments governing the university’
Receiving the new institution into the higher education docket, Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister Hon. Prof. Margaret Kamar, petitioned Kenya’s public universities to take advantage of their respective research and academic strengths to create, ‘centers of excellence in specific disciplines’. The minister advised the new University college to ensure it developed into an important global university in cooperative studies saying that the college had been instrumental in steering cooperative training in sub-Saharan Africa. ‘My ministry expects the council to nurture the Institution to become a world-class University for cooperative education and training’
Prof Kamar pledged her Ministry’s support to the new college that she said would be critical not only in providing the required manpower to service the growing cooperative industry but that would as well assist government to expand higher education opportunities to the country’s youth. The cooperative industry, the Minister added was currently responsible for 45 percent of Kenya’s GDP saying the new University college had to be at the forefront in spearheading research, innovation and development to help the country meet Vision 2030 objectives.
And Cooperative Development and Marketing Minister Joseph Nyagah welcomed by the elevation of the College that had been under his Ministry for years and pledged budgetary support to the University College that he said would still be providing the much required personnel and research output to steer the cooperative sector in the country.
Hon. Nyaga acknowledged the central role that the cooperative sector in Kenya was playing in the country’s economic development and added the sector currently comprising of over 14, 000 registered societies; 50 and 38 percent of them agricultural based and Savings and Credit cooperative societies respectively making the cooperative industry the fastest growing sector in Kenya. The new college status he said was a major achievement that had occurred in Kenya at the time when the world was celebrating the UN International Year of the Cooperatives.
On his part, Chairman of Council, Eng. Julius Riungu underscored the need for the university college to seek and establish active linkages with professional institutions and other stakeholders for long term progress.
In her address, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Mabel Imbuga pledged JKUAT support to the new college and urged it to continue offering the diploma programmes even as 345 pioneering students were set to begin their undergraduate studies in Bachelor of Co-operative Business and Bachelor of Commerce in September 2012.
The inauguration of the college is set to revolutionize management of co-operatives training and research in the country.