The Principal Secretary, State Department for University Education and Research, Amb. Simon Nabukwesi, has called upon universities in the country to leverage on inter-disciplinary research to generate supplementary funds to address resource scarcity.
Amb. Nabukwesi stated that despite Government’s commitment to fund institutions of higher learning, the adverse effects of Covid-19 pandemic have compelled Government to adjust capital spending towards mitigating the impact of the Covid-19.
“While the Government has remained steadfast in funding institutions of higher learning, this has lately been complicated by the adverse effects of the pandemic on various economic sectors. The net effect of this is that funding may not remain sustainable in the long run,” said Amb. Nabukwesi.
The Principal Secretary, acknowledged that public universities are experiencing financial crisis “to the extent of failing to meet their financial obligations,” but gave an assurance that the Ministry of Education together with the officials of all universities and other stakeholders are currently exploring all possible solutions to address financial instability in universities.
Amb. Nabukwesi pledged to support JKUAT on its aspiration to attain financial stability, noting “the University is a renowned institution of higher learning in Kenya, Africa and beyond the continent in science and technology.”
Nabukwesi was addressing graduands and other stakeholders at JKUAT during the institutions 36th graduation ceremony which was successfully held virtually, Friday, April 9, 2021.
A total of 4332 graduands comprising 28 doctorates, 316 masters and 3986 undergraduates were conferred degrees, awarded diplomas and certificates.
JKUAT Chancellor, Prof. Joseph Mathu Ndung’u, who presided over the ceremony, lauded the University Council and Management for steering the University towards national and global recognition.
Prof. Ndung’u said JKUAT has forged partnerships and collaborations with industry in order to realize institutional growth and sustainable development.
He lauded strategic partnerships the university has forged with other entities, “Through the partnerships, JKUAT students and faculty will benefit from joint research ventures, capacity building, technology transfer as well as commercialization of innovations,” Prof. Ndung’u observed.
The Chancellor acknowledged the role of research in institutions of higher learning in the country’s development agenda, hailing JKUAT researchers for generating research funds through inter-disciplinary collaborations and for rising to the challenges occasioned by COVID-19 which he noted, has inspired the development of many innovations to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.
“Among the innovations is an intubation box developed by a team of medical personnel from the School of Medicine, and engineers from the College of Engineering and Technology. The intubation box, once fully developed, tested and adopted, will minimize the risk of infection of medical personnel,” said Prof. Ndung’u.
On his part, the Chairman of JKUAT Council, Amb. Mahboub Maalim Mohamed expressed his delight to the University community for pulling off the second virtual graduation ceremony despite the challenges of Covid-19 pandemic.
Amb. Maalim thanked the university stakeholders for embracing online learning and for jointly pulling their resources together to ensure learning continued.
“I wish to also thank JICA and KENET for their support in enhancing internet connectivity across all our campuses. This ensured that our operations went on as planned while still adhering to the Ministry of Health COVID-19 containment measures,” said Amb. Maalim.
The Chair of Council, appealed to the Government to increase development funding to JKUAT to ensure that pending and ongoing projects are completed.
He affirmed the University’s commitment to service delivery obligation while reflecting on the successful 2020/2021 Performance Contract signing between the Council and the Vice Chancellor, which he reported, has since been cascaded to all staff members. He urged all the graduands to utilize the skills and knowledge learnt to build a better society.
The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi, said, “The graduating class was the first cohort to fulfill course requirements through blended learning, which she further reported, is the current norm in educational institutions.”
While thanking the University stakeholders for supporting JKUAT, Prof. Ngumi paid tribute to the late Juja Member of Parliament, Hon. Francis Munyua Waititu, for supporting students through bursaries.
As a strategy for realizing greater productivity, attraction and retention of staff, Prof. Ngumi explained, the University has continued to support staff to proceed for training, both locally and internationally in thematic areas of science, technology and innovation.
Prof. Ngumi said, “JKUAT is developing a Graduate Assistant Policy aimed at identifying students with outstanding academic performance to harness their professional potential.”
She reaffirmed the University’s commitment to complement government’s effort to mitigate effects of the pandemic through research and engagement with partners.
The Vice Chancellor expressed her confidence that the graduands “will be good JKUAT ambassadors, seeking to innovate sustainable solutions to challenges facing the society, while maximizing the available opportunities.” She concluded by advising them to take care of themselves and keep safe.