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Endless rows taking us nowhere, says Kibaki

KERICHO, Kenya, Mar 23 – President Mwai Kibaki has urged leaders to stop bickering and focus on developing the country.

Saying the development tempo the country has attained is unstoppable, President Kibaki said the public should ignore those who are wasting time on endless squabbling at the expense of the country\’s development agenda.

"We should not allow anybody to stop us from achieving our development goal.  Let us all work hard to make Kenya the great nation we will be proud of," President Kibaki said.

The President was speaking on Wednesday in Kericho where he granted a charter to Kenya Highlands Evangelical University.

The President, at the same time, called on Kenyans to embrace one another as brothers and sisters and play their part in safeguarding peace and the country\’s nationhood.

President Kibaki pointed out that the development strides the country has made will only be sustained under a peaceful environment.

"This is the reason why I have always underscored the importance of national healing and reconciliation.  It is no accident that God placed us together in this beautiful country Kenya.  Let us safeguard our nationhood," the President said. 

On education, President Kibaki said the Government had stepped up its efforts in enhancing access, equity and relevance of the country\’s university education by establishing 15 new public university colleges.

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"This has partly involved allowing middle-level public institutions to offer degree programmes," said President Kibaki. 

The Head of State added that the Government was also revamping the middle-level training sector including the establishment of national polytechnics and the development of new model technical training institutions in all parts of the country.

Said President Kibaki: "In doing this, we are paying special attention to regional equity."

The President emphasised that the Government was also keen to ensure that the country\’s higher education was not only relevant to local development needs but equips students with the necessary skills to compete effectively in the increasingly globalized knowledge-based economy.

President Kibaki said the Government was dealing with the challenge of increased demand for higher education resulting from the free education programmes it introduced in the country.

"The total number of students enrolled in universities has reached 200,000 this year, which corresponds to an enrolment rate of 3.5 percent.  This is still a low figure, given that we aim at a national target of 10 percent enrolment rate by 2015," President Kibaki said.

In this regard, the President appreciated the critical role played by the private university sector in addressing the urgent need to expand access to university education.

Noting that the Commission for Higher Education has instituted strategies and procedures for accreditation and quality assurance, the President urged the commission to remain steadfast in its duties so as to make Kenya not only a regional hub but also an African leader in higher education, research, science and technology.

"Setting up of any new campuses and new collaborations should be subjected to thorough scrutiny by the Ministry of Higher Education and the Commission to ensure that the quality of education is not compromised at any time," the President emphasised.

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President Kibaki commended the Kenya Highlands Evangelical University for satisfying the rigorous accreditation requirements set by the Commission for Higher Education.

The institution, which started 40 years ago, becomes the 14th private institution in Kenya to have attained full university status.

Said the President: "With the award of charter, you have become a full member of the university community.  The University can now mount joint programmes with other accredited universities across the world, and its scholars and students will be accepted for exchange programmes."

Moreover, President assured students admitted to the university that they will now be eligible for loans and other financial assistance from the Government through the Higher Education Loans Board.

He expressed optimism that the students have the necessary will and capacity to make the university remain an excellent institution that the country and region can be proud of.

Speaking during the occasion which was also attended by 18 Members of Parliament, speakers including area Member of Parliament Benjamin Langat, Charles Keter, Jeremiah Kioni, Kazungu Kambi and Isaac Ruto reiterated their support for a local mechanism to address the post-election violence issue instead of the ICC approach.

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