Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology was among fourteen universities awarded Charters by President Mwai Kibaki at a colourful ceremony held at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi.
The Charters were awarded to seven public universities, five recently upgraded university colleges and two private universities. The public universities, hitherto operating under individual acts of Parliament, were granted fresh Charters in line with the recently enforced Universities Act No. 42 of 2012 while the two private universities; Kenya College of Accountancy and Adventist University of Africa were operating under interim letters of authority.
University of Nairobi, Moi University, Kenyatta University, Egerton University, Maseno University and Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology now get a new lease of life with fresh charters. The five recently upgraded universities which include Multimedia University of Kenya, South Eastern University of Kenya, University of Kabianga, Meru University of Science and Technology and Karatina University now join the family of autonomous institutions of higher learning.
According to the new Act, both public and private universities will be under the watch of the Commission for University Education in the provision of quality and relevant higher education in the country.
While presiding over the award of Charters, President Kibaki commended the tertiary education community for their proactive role that has seen exponential growth and expansion of access to higher education locally.
“We are sending a message that Kenya will produce an educated class of people ready to take their place in a world that is becoming more competitive”, noted the Head of State.
President Kibaki further called on universities to develop graduates with relevant skills and knowledge to enable them to engage in nation building, in particular, to train the youth to be job creators rather than job seekers.
“Let us nurture the spirit of enterprise in our young people so that they can posses the skills to set up small and medium size businesses which will, in the years to come, develop into large corporations that we can be proud of”, exhorted the President.
Higher Education, Science and Technology minister, Prof. Margaret Kamar called on the institutions of higher learning to continually expand existing physical infrastructure, human resource base and academic programmes to accommodate the increasing numbers of Kenyans seeking higher education.
Commenting on the benefits of the Universities Act 2012, Prof. Kamar held that, “it provides necessary institutional framework to safeguard quality and relevance of higher education in the country”.
Speaking on behalf of two private universities, Kenya College of Accountancy chancellor, Prof. Arthur Eshiwani appealed to the regulatory authorities to level the playing field for both public and private universities, particularly in funding and admission of students.
Kenyatta University Chancellor, Prof. Onesmus Mutungi who spoke on behalf of the chartered public universities, commended the President for his focused leadership that saw the number of public universities rise from seven to 22.
Prof. Mutungi assured the country that Kenyan universities would continue to produce quality graduates whose competencies are commensurate to the development agenda of the nation.
The new Universities Act 2012 which came into being at the fall of 2012 has ushered in a raft of changes in the establishment, management and operations of higher institutions of learning in the country.
The ceremony was also attended by Chancellors, Council members, Vice Chancellors, senior government officials and diplomats among others.