Higher education institutions have been urged to engage various stakeholders in policy formulation that will contribute to the development of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) in Africa.
Speaking on behalf of the Education Cabinet Secretary to participants attending the TICAD VI Pre-Event on Higher Education at JKUAT Friday, July 22, the Principal Secretary Prof. Collette Suda noted that “Higher education institutions cannot do it alone. We need to work together, draw on our synergies in order to deliver on higher education as well as strengthening science technology and innovation in Africa.”
The PS revealed that the government had set a target of training 1000 PhDs per year. To this end, she observed, her ministry appreciated the contribution of existing collaborative initiatives between Japanese institutions of higher learning and Kenyan institutions.
“The Ministry is exploring various ways to address the human resource needs including awarding scholarships to students to pursue PhD studies as well as asking universities to invest in the programmes.” This, she added, called for the institutions of learning in the country to strengthen existing relationships with other institutions around the world, and to establish new partnerships in order to transform the world.
The Principal Secretary said the forthcoming Tokyo Conference on African Development is an initiative of the Government of the people of Japan to focus World attention on socio-economic development challenges across Africa. “The purpose is not only to highlight challenges, but through partnership with African countries, to seek lasting and sustainable solutions for Africa and the world at large.”
The PS said the government appreciated what the people of Japan through the Japanese Government had accomplished in Kenya for the benefit of Kenyans.
“Indeed, this very institution, JKUAT, is a shining example of that cooperation between Kenya and Japan. JKUAT is arguably one of the best universities we are proud of not only as a ministry but also as a country, in promoting science, technology and innovation, as a centre of excellence in ICT,” Prof. Suda observed.
The Ambassador of Japan to Kenya, Toshitsugu Uesawa, lauded JKUAT for being the epitome and role model in the bilateral relations between Kenya and Japan. He acknowledged that since Japan’s introduction to JKUAT in 1977, over 300 technical experts have been deployed in JKUAT.
Over the years, most countries in Africa have developed policies with the aim of accelerating industrialization through promotion of Science, Innovation and Technology but the application of these policies have been slow due to inadequate human and financial resources.
To address this, the Ambassador said the Japanese government will increase the number of scholarships offered in the continent through the African Business Education (ABE) Initiative for Youth in a bid to enhance human resource development in Africa.
He also said Japan will offer linkages support especially in industry, government and academia between Japan and Kenya to nurture cutting edge Science and Technology Innovation in the country.
Acknowledging the support from Japanese Government, Chairman of Council, Prof. Paul Kanyari Njuki said, “The support has transcended infrastructural development into human capacity building, noting that some of the leading scholars in JKUAT have been trained in Japanese Universities.”
JICA, he said,is currently sponsoring more staff pursuing doctorate studies in Japan. “We therefore pass our gratitude to Government and people of Japan for their generous gesture that has made JKUAT emerge as a leading regional centre of excellence in training, research and innovation,” said Prof. Njuki.
The Vice Chancellor, Prof Mabel Imbuga said, one common guiding value that defines JKUAT’s academic community is “a culture of research and innovation that has become the accepted practice for both faculty and students setting JKUAT apart as a truly research and entrepreneurial academy.”
This, she said has been possible, courtesy of the Japanese work ethic and scientific rigor planted at JKUAT through its long association with Japan.
“Our partners introduced a creative and dynamic curriculum, with a clear mandate to offer training programmes with heavy emphasis on practical skills crucial to the development of Kenya’s agricultural and industrial sectors,” Imbuga observed.
JKUAT has devised appropriate methods of disseminating new technologies to empower not only Kenyans but also nationals across sub-Saharan Africa, she concluded.