The Principal Secretary, State Department of University Education and Research Amb. Simon Nabukwesi has applauded JKUAT for actively supporting various national and county-level projects such as the government digitization Programme, governance training for counties and COVID-19 interventions.
The official also lauded JKUAT for launching a TVET institute, saying that the facility will be key in producing the much-needed middle-level technical expertise for Kenya.
In a speech on Friday, December 2 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), Amb. Nabukwesi said that universities have a key role to play in moulding the next generation of professionals who can effectively support the delivery of Kenya’s development agenda.
Amb. Nabukwesi’s remarks were delivered by Paul Mungai, Deputy Director at the Education Ministry. He challenged Kenyan Universities to realign their training syllabus in readiness for the students undergoing the Competency Based Curriculum.
Nabukwesi further urged universities in Kenya to prioritise quality, equity and inclusiveness in preparing graduates to a more digitally aligned workspace. Part of the strategy, the PS exhorted, was for the University Councils to utilize prudent financial management while cultivating more revenue streams.
During the graduation ceremony, JKUAT Chancellor, Prof. Joseph Mathu Ndung’u conferred degrees and awarded diplomas to 3,813 graduands. A total of 2,771 students were conferred with undergraduate degrees while JKUAT presented 52 graduands for award of doctorate degrees.
PAUSTI, which was marking its 8th graduation ceremony presented 27 doctorate graduands and 57 masters graduands.
In his address to the congregation, the Chancellor noted that JKUAT had provided an effective platform for students to hone their knowledge, skills and talents in different academic disciplines. Prof. Mathu singled out a multidisciplinary team of students who came up with six innovative digital health projects targeting the management of HIV/AIDS.
Coming just a day after the world marked the AIDS Day, the Chancellor noted that the innovations demonstrated how digital systems in healthcare can be part of a holistic, strategic framework for improving clinical outcomes.
The Vice Chancellor Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi noted that JKUAT had pioneered innovative solutions to some of the global challenges such as climate change-induced food insecurity. She reported that JKUAT researchers in collaboration with other partners, installed a sub-surface Water Retention Technology Solution on 18 farms in Makueni County. The goal of the project was to increase farm system resilience in sandy soils to ensure higher crop productivity.
“Likewise, JKUAT and Chinese agriculture researchers have completed an in-depth study involving the optimization of agronomic practices, which improved maize yields by up to 50%,” added Prof. Ngumi.
The Vice Chancellor challenged the graduands to utilize the acquired knowledge to create viable solutions to existing and emerging societal challenges while conducting themselves with professionalism and integrity.
In her remarks, Pan African University Vice President Prof. Amany Abdallah EI-Sherif noted that PAUSTI imparted important African elements such as culture, economic and political environments into its training curriculum, ensuring that the graduates uniquely appreciate the development needs of the continent.
While thanking partners for a decade of support towards PAUSTI, Prof. Abdallah added that the research and innovation outputs by PAUSTI students could be scaled up to meet the needs of African countries and beyond.
Speaking on behalf of the JKUAT Council, Dr. Salome Gichura said that the organ had worked hard to ensure that JKUAT delivers on its mandate despite the challenges facing Kenya’s higher education sector. She thanked the university management and staff for being steadfast in enabling JKUAT to remain one of the most preferred institution of higher learning.