, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 14 – There is need for Kenyan universities to put more resources in the development of research aimed at finding solutions to challenges facing the society, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka has said.
Mr Musyoka said unless universities focus more attention on value-adding research, answers to the developmental challenges that society faces cannot be found.
He said it is through research that universities can continually make their programmes relevant by re-orienting them to reflect modern trends towards knowledge based economies and to aggressively foster creativity and innovation.
He said the Government will endeavour to protect and nurture academic independence not only to ensure that universities act as the conscience and critic of society, but also support the flexibility and innovation that goes with independence of thought.
The VP made the remarks on Monday in a speech read on his behalf by Home Affairs Permanent Secretary Dr Ludeki Chweya, during the inaugural graduation ceremony of Thika College for Sharia and Islamic studies.
Mr Musyoka said today’s knowledge-driven global economy makes universities hold the key to the competitiveness of national economies.
He regretted that despite concerted efforts by the Government to ensure that each Kenyan youth who qualifies gets access to university education, there are still several impediments in our endeavour towards achieving this noble goal.
He said the challenges obtaining in this endeavour include a mismatch between the skills acquired by university graduates and the demand of the industry, and an imbalance between the number of studying science and arts-based courses.
“These challenges dictate that universities take cognisance of the fact that they are research-led institutions, and are expected to provide a broad intellectual leadership within the community, as well as equipping people with skills that go beyond vocational in order to foster critical thinking and innovation,’’ said the VP.
Mr Musyoka at the same time said the Government has established a national system for the assessment of learning achievements.
“We are also looking forward to the establishment of a national qualifications framework as well as enhancing the capacity of the quality assurance bodies in order to ensure high standards of education,’’ said Mr Musyoka.
He said the Government is also strengthening partnerships among actors in and out of the education sector so as to sustain the achievements that have so far been realised.
Mr Musyoka further urged the private sector and religious institutions to take advantage of Kenyans insatiable demand for higher education to invest in this sector.
And as they do so, the VP said quality and standards must never be compromised.
He said the Government will strictly monitor compliance to ensure that standards are not only upheld but the courses provided are also relevant to the aspirations and development needs of the country.