, KAKAMEGA, Nov 18 – President Mwai Kibaki has urged negotiating parties to the universities workers industrial dispute to deal with outstanding matters within the shortest time possible to ensure full resumption of academic activities in public universities.
President Kibaki, who was presiding over the 5th graduation ceremony at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, emphasized that the Government was keen on the smooth running of the country’s tertiary institutions of learning.
“In this regard, I am particularly keen to see the speedy resolution of the standoff resulting from the industrial action by some members of staff of our universities,” the Head of State said.
The University Academic Staff Union (UASU) and University Non-Teaching Staff Union (UNTESU) suspended their week-long strike after a meeting with Labour Minister John Munyes yesterday to give room for negotiations.
Urging Kenyans to take advantage of the expanded opportunities in institutions of higher education, the President stressed on the need for the management of universities to ensure quality education that is relevant to the country’s development requirements while guaranteeing competitiveness at the global level.
The Head of State expressed the Government’s commitment to providing the necessary support to universities to produce manpower required in achieving the country’s educational goals as set out in Vision 2030.
“It is with this in mind that we have continued to extend all possible support to the seven public universities in the country. We have further established twenty three constituent colleges, including Kibabii University College, which is a constituent university college of this University,” the President said.
Stressing that the world was driven by knowledge, the Head of State said the success of Kenyans as individuals and as a nation will be judged by the level of contribution to the acquisition of knowledge and innovation.
It is for this reason, the President said, that increased investments in education at all levels remain one of the key Government priorities.
In this regard, President Kibaki called on institutions of higher learning to place emphasis on courses that will enable young people to play an active role in the rapid industrialization and technological development of the country.
“Kenyans must wake up to the reality that no country in the world has been able to develop without making radical achievements in technological advancement,” said President Kibaki.
Noting with appreciation the increased enrolment of students in public universities, the President observed that the number of market-oriented and demand-driven programs have also been established to provide the much needed capacities for the realization of national goals.
He welcomed the developments and urged university councils to ensure that the introduction of new courses was guided by quality and relevance to propel the country to middle income economy by the year 2030.
The Head of State underscored the need for university programs to be aligned to the requirements of registration by professional bodies for purposes of professional and ethical practices.
President Kibaki, at the same time, encouraged graduates from the country’s institutions of higher learning to creatively seize the many existing and unfolding opportunities in the country so as to contribute to national development.
The President reiterated that the new Constitution lays the foundation for the rapid growth of the economy which will in turn open up opportunities for gainful engagement for upcoming graduates.
“We all appreciate that there are challenges to be encountered as you embark on the next chapter of your lives. I am, however, encouraged to note that you have graduated at a most opportune time when the country has promulgated a new Constitution,” President Kibaki said.
The President congratulated the graduands for successfully completing their studies, saying the skills they received would enable them to succeed in their respective careers and become productive citizens.
Speaking during the occasion, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Local Government Musalia Mudavadi lauded the President’s decision for the country to deal with the Al Shabaab menace, saying all Kenyans are supporting the move.
“We fully support the move to keep the Al Shabaab militia outside our borders,” Mudavadi said.
On her part, Higher Education Minister Margret Kamar thanked President Kibaki for his massive support for the country’s higher education sector.
Kamar, at the same time assured Kenyans that the issue of registration of engineering graduates from Masinde Muliro University was being addressed by her ministry.
Other speakers include the university council’s Chairman Allan Simu and the Vice Chancellor Baraza Wangila.
Earlier, President Kibaki laid a foundation stone for a women’s hostel at the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology.