, NAIROBI, Kenya Oct 7 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has ordered a freeze in the establishment of new universities to give focus on strengthening existing institutions as well as providing more technical and vocational training.
The President issued the directive after awarding charters to eight new universities at a ceremony held at State House, Nairobi.
A ninth university, Garissa University, was initially planned to be among the institutions getting their charter today, but President Kenyatta said he would personally travel to Garissa to deliver the certification.
The President said his decision on Garissa University is to send a loud message that Kenya will never succumb to the threats of terrorism.
The eight new universities that were awarded charters were KAG East University in Kajiado County, Rongo University in Migori County, the Cooperative University of Kenya in Nairobi County and Taita Taveta University in Taita-Taveta County.
The others were Murang’a University of Technology in Murang’a County, University of Embu in Embu County, Machakos University in Machakos County and Kirinyaga University in Kirinyaga County.
The President also witnessed the installation of Chancellors of the new universities as part of the elaborate ceremony of award of charters.
The chancellors are Mr Fred Ojiambo (Kirinyaga University), Hon Joseph Nyaga (Cooperative University), Prof Mohamed Y Elmi (Rongo University), Hon Dr Sally Kosgei (Taita-Taveta University), Mr James Mworia (Machakos University), Prof Musili Wambua (Embu University), Dr Philista Onyango and Rev Dr Peter Njiiri (KAG East University).
The Head of State said the freeze on the establishment of new Universities will give the Government the opportunity to give emphasis to improving the quality of existing universities as opposed to their quantity.
“Our focus now must be strengthening the institutions that we have; building their resilience and ensuring sustained quality,” said President Kenyatta.
“These institutions have to be globally competitive in their operations and service delivery. Quantity at the expense of quality has a potential to harm our country,” added the President.
The President said the Government will also focus on developing the necessary job skills needed for Kenya to meet the objectives of the Vision 2030.
“We are determined to deliver on vocational training, through our Technical and Vocational Training Institutions (TVETS) and other programmes to deliver on skills required to grow our country in terms of Vision 2030,” he said.
President Kenyatta called on the new universities to create links with the private sector in order for them to succeed in making students globally competitive.
He said this will allow the private sector to tap into the knowledge and innovation available at institutions of higher learning.
These linkages will also enable the universities to access and benefit from the expertise of the private sector.
President Kenya also challenged the new universities to step up to the challenge of meeting the expectations Kenyans have of institutions of higher learning.
“Our standards of research, of teaching, and of management must be exceptional. If you let your standards fall, then you have failed your students and your country,” said the President as he asked the new universities to do better than the older universities.
He also cautioned those in charge of the new universities to guard against tribalism and to uphold national values.
“Our universities have a special role to play in nation building: they challenge our parochial concerns, they expose us to Kenyans of different origins and experiences; and they teach us the value of our nationhood. But they cannot do that if they are held back by nepotism and tribalism,” said the President.
Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said the Government has shown commitment in supporting the education sector.
He said Kenya has the distinction of making one of the biggest investment in education in sub-Saharan Africa.
The CS said he is committed to ensure that the massive public resources allocated to the education sector are not wasted.
The chairman of the Commission for University Education Prof Chacha Nyaigoti Chacha and the Secretary to the commission Prof David Kimutai Some also spoke at the ceremony.