Launch of Strategic plan 2009-2012, and academic quality assurance policy

The rapidly changing global, economic, technological, political and social trends have created the necessity for most organizations to re-examine their mandate and reasons for the existence so that they can capture mid-term plans in line with Vision 2030.

JKUAT having gone through dramatic transformation heeded this change to review its Strategic Plan to cover four years (2009 – 2012) so as to capture and articulate its core business effectively. This new political dispensation in the country has forced not only JKUAT but also other institutions of higher learning to be more performance and result oriented in the delivery of quality academic programmes.

Because the university is facing new challenges from the growth in students’ enrollment, limited government funding, insufficient donor support and competition from private universities both locally and internationally, the situation requires greater corporate governance; prudent financial management; enhanced human resources; capacity development and utilization; efficient and effective information management systems; and above all new researched value adding and customer driven academic programmes.

To articulate all these, the Vision and Mission had equally to be re-examined and re-phrased and institutionalized to capture and reflect our core business, namely training, research and community service. The Strategic Plan is the solution to this as it provides the University with the roadmap into the future.

On the other hand, with the widespread concern from the general public on university education, especially with the mushrooming and expansions of many institutions all wanting to share the academic cake in the country, JKUAT had already put measures to ensure continued quality standards remained. It had moved quite fast to ensure that what it gave out as its product – programmes, was of quality, and would stand the test of any country in the world. It was for this reason that in 2007 the Germany Academic Exchange Program (DAAD) sponsored the first top universities management training in Germany. JKUAT was represented and as a culmination of the training, each university selected an academic programme to undergo self assessment. JKUAT took up BSc Information Technology program as a pilot subjected for evaluation by external and external peer reviewers. The BSc Information Technology program was rated the best not only in Kenya, but also in the region.

While launching the Academic Quality Assurance Policy and the re-launch of the University’s Strategic Plan (2009 – 2012) on Tuesday, Dr Bitange Ndemo, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Information and Communication said he had witnessed JKUAT discharge a number of its obligations with admirable success.

Other than the University being the brain behind the project dubbed, Madaraka PC, the institution the PS said was currently the lead trainer in ICT entrepreneurship, a government funded project initiated last December targeting to train over 7500 ICT entrepreneurs in the next three years, with the sole purpose of increasing access to ICT to Kenyans.

These ICT services Dr. Ndemo added were intended to dramatically revolutionalize rural socio-economic and political activities. JKUAT is the only university in the region, running a programme in ICT policy and regulations that will be important in the regulation of the all important ICT products and services.

JKUAT becomes the first public university to publish Academic quality Assurance Policy in line with the reforms being undertaken in the education sector. Dr. Ndemo says JKUAT has met the first step in guarding the quality of its programmes, a move that should be emulated by other institutions.

Quality of academic programmes is high on the agenda for the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. Indeed one of the University’s strategic objectives is “to develop and promote quality and market driven academic and professional pursuits”.

Given the current global changes, no university will survive the present competition with other universities in the country, region and the world over without paying attention to quality assurance and enhancement. Currently, discourses and commentaries on higher education have focused on four critical concerns namely, equity, relevance, access and quality.
These anxieties have in general underpinned the University’s efforts to provide quality education and learning opportunities for students. The pursuit of Academic Quality Assurance (AQA) within the University is a journey of improvement, towards excellence rather than a destination. The University, therefore, aspires to provide accessible, relevant, current and market-driven programmes delivered through innovative and pioneering technologies.

To meet this mandate the University has in place the Directorate of Academic Quality Assurance (DAQA) whose functions inter alia are to, affirm that the quality of educational programme and the standards of awards are consistently maintained, ensure that the University academic programmes remain current, accessible, relevant and market-driven, validate and/or review programmes, monitor and evaluate academic standards and the quality of programmes of study throughout the University campuses and collaborating institutions.

To achieve the above functions the Directorate has developed and published an Academic Quality Assurance policy. JKUAT, therefore, becomes the first public university to have in place a published academic quality assurance policy in the country. The main aims of the policy are to:
(a) Establish guidelines and procedures to develop, monitor, maintain and review academic standards of programmes.
(b) Ensure and enhance the quality of teaching, research and learning opportunities and the student experience at the delivery points.
(c) Safeguard academic standards, assurance and enhancement of quality of all University awards, however offered.
The policy is not just in paper but has been implemented in all university campuses and affiliated centres.

The current Strategic Plan is designed to align the University’s strategic objectives to the medium term plans, National Policy documents and Vision 2030.
The Strategic Plan is focused in enhancing the University’s ability to respond effectively to the global challenges and market dynamism and optimize the use of existing financial, material, technological and human resources intended to achieve the University’s mandate and be a player in the achievement of government goals as well as keeping abreast with the new developments and exploit existing market opportunities as a result of the increased demand for higher education.

For the purposes of giving the University a clear direction and relevance to conform to the current trends in the global market, the Strategic Plan revised the University’s Vision and Mission to:
Our Vision: To be an Institution of global Excellence in Training, research and Innovation for Development while our Mission now is: To offer accessible Quality Training, Research, and Innovation in order to Produce Leaders in the Fields of Agriculture, Engineering, Technology, Enterprise Development, Health and other Applied Sciences to suit the needs of a Dynamic World.

In the pursuit of its Vision and Mission, the University continues to be guided by its popular motto of “Setting trends in training, research and innovations” and value proposition of being “A dynamic institution with a strong focus on excellence through generation and delivery of applicable knowledge for socio-economic development.

By Hindzano Ngonyo. The writer is the University’s Public Relations Officer

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