The Government has allocated funds for research by academic staff in Kenyan universities as part of ongoing efforts to stimulate innovation within tertiary institutions.
The funds, to be disbursed through the National Research Fund, according to Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha will help enhance the country’s competitive edge by integrating scientific innovation with its economic development plan.
Magoha now encouraging local scientists to tap into the resources to support the government’s Big 4 Agenda, Vision 2030, and the global Sustainable Development Goals.
Magoha lauded local scientists especially those who continue to work around the clock, to help find a vaccine against the novel coronavirus.
“There is no better time to gauge the value of our universities than during times of crises. At this point, I would like to commend researchers from Kenyan universities for being in the forefront of sharing their knowledge and expertise as we continue to seek answers on the best way of containing the coronavirus disease and managing the socio-economic impact of the pandemic,” He said.
Magoha spoke during the 63rd virtual Graduation Ceremony of the University of Nairobi where 3,000 graduands were awarded various degrees.
He said the setup of the virtual graduation is evidence that the use of technology is no longer an alternative, but an acceptable way of doing business, including education.
“We may have delayed in reaching this realization, but we have made a significant progress since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country in March this year. Even before the pandemic, my Ministry had planned on the delivery of 30% of the programmes in public universities through e-learning. This target was to be achieved over a period of five years through investment in the Open, Distance and e-learning model popularly called ODeL,” He said.
Magoha said he was impressed that the University of Nairobi embraced online learning and teaching effortlessly and even managed to conduct semester examinations to about 10,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students.
He said the decision to re-open educational institutions was arrived at following advice from the Ministry of Health and education stakeholders with the COVID-19 curve appearing dip.
“I am happy to report that the stakeholders resolved to allow science-based students to return to their universities, especially those in the final year, to clear the way for them to complete their programme. Earlier, we had allowed medical students in their final year to resume learning. We hope that necessary measures are in place in our universities to ensure compliance with all Ministry of Health protocols as students start returning,” The CS said.
Magoha revealed that going forward, the Ministry will announce more resolutions made by the education stakeholders, which could lead to the reopening of universities as guided by various Senates and Councils.
He said they will now focus on addressing key issues of quality of teaching and the challenges facing students and lecturers as critical stakeholders in the implementation of e-learning.
“The Ministry will work with universities and partners in the education sector to support the successful implementation of e-learning. On this aspect, I urge the universities to pursue opportunities for partnership with private investors to ensure that students have access to the opportunities they need to tap into the vast academic resources that online learning can offer. In addition to improving the infrastructure, universities should also invest in building the capacity of the academic staff to offer effective e-learning, He said.