Home NEWS County News More than 5,700 students graduate at MKU

More than 5,700 students graduate at MKU

MKU Vice Chancellor Prof Deogratius Jaganyi (left) MKU chancellor Prof John Struthers, council member Jonah Aiyabei, Principal Secretary for Industry at the Ministry of Investments, Trade and Industry, Dr Juma Mukhwana and University Council Chairman, Dr Vincent Gaitho {right} during the institution's 24th graduation ceremony

More than 5,700 local and foreign students graduated at Mount Kenya University (MKU) on Friday morning even as the institution continues to renew and seek partnerships with international organisations and colleges. 

Presenting the newest graduates to thousands of parents, guardians, invited guests, the university fraternity and other stakeholders, Vice-Chancellor Prof Deogratius said out of the 5,763 students, 3,429 were men and 2,334 female. Among them were 19 PhD degrees, 531 Masters Holders, and 113 postgraduate diplomas.

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The institution recently renewed its partnership with the University of the West of Scotland

However, the majority of the graduands (3,670) were awarded bachelor’s degrees, 1,177 diplomas and 263 certificates. “All these graduands have fulfilled all the academic programme requirements for conferment of various degrees and award of various diplomas,” said the Vice Chancellor.

Prof Jaganyi said MKU has remained resilient and has continued to strive in enrolling students for various academic programmes and offering quality education.  Pursuant to compliance with the Commission for University Education (CHE) quality standards, “MKU has continued to position itself as a premier institution of higher education. Recently, the Commission inspected Embu, Machakos and Malindi Regional ODEL Centres and the Centres have complied with the CUE standards threshold,” he said.

The VC said the Postgraduate Center in Nairobi Campus has been enhanced to support postgraduate students. The varsity has also introduced three new programmes: Master of Pharmacy in Cosmetic Technology, Master of Pharmacy in Industrial Pharmacy, and Master of Science in Industrial Pharmacognosy and Traditional Medicine, Prof Jaganyi told the congregation at the 24th MKU graduation ceremony held in Thika town.

Presiding over the fete, MKU chancellor Prof John Struthers (a faculty member of the University of the West (UWS) of Scotland), congratulated the graduands, their parents and guardians and the MKU fraternity for a successful. “You have received a very strong education at MKU which has equipped you well to serve the global community wherever your services are required,” he said.

Prof Struthers said a new Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the respective Vice- Chancellors of University of West of Scotland and MKU VC when Prof Jaganyi held high profile meetings in the Scotland campuses in October, including meeting the Vice-Chancellor Prof James Miller.

The renewed partnership will facilitate joint research and other areas of collaboration. “As the Chancellor of MKU, I will endeavour to assist in that process to the best of my ability,” he said.

Additionally, following the successful hosting of the International Conference of the Center for African Research on Enterprise and Economic Development (Careed) for seven years at the UWS, MKU will now host the 8th International Conference of Careed in Thika in July 2024.

“This is a significant milestone in the history of Careed as well as for MKU, because it is the first time that Careed will host its conference outside UWS and more significantly in Africa,” he said.

Other international partnerships ongoing include the Erasmus Plus sponsorship with the University of St. Cyril and Methodius in Trnava, Slovakia, in Europe, which was unveiled through the first visit of three MKU members of staff.  A reciprocal visit to MKU is expected to take place in January 2024.

The chancellor said the MKU Kwinta partnership is also being implemented at the college’s Botanic Garden, through mass propagation of commercially viable medicinal plants, conservation of endangered plants species, supporting the Presidential Initiative of growing of 15 billion trees between 2022 and 2032.

An initiative towards scholarship support of the needy and bright students has also been enhanced through the new partnership with the Ugandan Based organisation called Mercy Beyond Borders. “Several new initiatives with a number of UK universities on SDGs promotion, Medical School support, environmental conservation, and research and capacity development are under way,” said the Chancellor.

“As scholars, we strive to serve the community to the best of our capacities through our core mandates of teaching, research and community engagement,” Prof Struthers said. He introduced his wife, a Ghanaian by birth, and Prof Richard Thacker, his colleague at UWS at the event.

The chairman of the university council, Dr Vincent Gaitho, said MKU is committed to ensuring compliance to national and international training standards that are guided by policies and regulations.  He said the university has embraced internationalisation of Higher Education and attracted both local and international students to pursue internationally accredited programmes. “Our digital footprint is growing globally, with students enrolling from more than 40 nationalities,” he said.

The university council approved the establishment of the Embu Open Distance and Electronic Learning (ODEL) Centre to support the students in the Eastern region of Kenya.

“This is in pursuit of enhancement of service delivery and making MKU’s robust digital learning to be accessible to many aspiring students, and promote equity in higher education,” said Dr Gaitho.

Dr Juma Mukhwana, Principal Secretary for the State Department of Industry in the Ministry of Investments, Trade, and Industry was the chief guest at the fete held under the theme, “The Role of Higher Education in Driving Small-Scale Industry for Socio-Economic Equity through Linkages”.

The PS said the Small-Scale industries play a critical role Kenya’s economic development by employing 14.1 million persons representing about 93 per cent of the national workforce. ”This sector contributes 24 percent to the GDP,” he said.

Among the youth, SMEs have significantly contributed to innovation and skill development, enabling them to realise their full potential resulting in increased productivity of the young people. “I appreciate this university for equipping young people with the right skills, knowledge, and activities to play in our market and at the international level,” he noted.

Dr Mukhwana said the government will continue to promote partnerships between SMEs, academia, and the private sector in skill development, promoting development of new technologies, and creating policies that encourage research and innovation in the country. “This collaboration was manifested during the Covid-19 pandemic period; during which many innovations were developed and deployed into the market,” he noted.

The PS decried the many challenges bedeviling the linkages between learning institutions and SMEs, such as minimal absorption of new technologies by SMEs, inappropriate skill critical to their growth, commercialization of innovative technologies; and a low appreciation of science and its contribution to the economy.

He said Small-scale industries, often the backbone of many economies, play a vital role in generating employment, driving innovation, and contributing significantly to local value addition and employment creation. This is where the synergy between higher education and small-scale industries becomes pivotal.

Collaborative efforts, such as research partnerships, technology transfer, mentorship programs, and internships, can facilitate the exchange of knowledge, expertise, and resources. Such linkages empower small-scale industries with the latest advancements in technology, managerial skills, and market insights, thus enhancing their productivity and competitiveness.

“MKU’s support to the students and researchers has led to the development of research-oriented projects that have continued to transform lives.  This support has led to development of several innovations that have been internationally acknowledged and awarded; and which have been instrumental in supporting the establishment of small-scale industrial start-ups,” he said, and congratulated the university management, researchers, and innovators for such sterling achievements.

Congratulating the graduands, Dr Mukhwana reiterated the government of Kenya’s commitment to supporting education, research, innovation, infrastructural growth, and employment creation for socio-economic equality.

According to Vice Chancellor Prof Jaganyi, during the 2023 Kenya National Music Festivals, MKU students presented 41 items, of which 19 items won first position and three were performed at the finals and the Statehouse gala event. The institution’s play titled “Roses of Blood” was selected for presentation at the Kenya International Theatre Festival in last month at the Kenya National Theatre.

To nurture student leadership at various campuses, the university sponsored its Students Association chairpersons for the African Leadership Forum held in October 2023 in Entebbe Uganda. Thereafter, the leaders visited Ugandan Parliament in the Ugandan State House in Entebbe.

On international universities student exchange programs; 16 medical students from Spain, Poland, Italy and France visited MKU in August. This offered great opportunities for our students to learn and interact with them at a professional level.

Prof Jaganyi said the university has continued to upgrade the E-learning platforms and the student management information systems to support real-time Integration with Microsoft Teams to enhance blended learning. This improves students, teachers experience on the digital platforms, content delivery and quality of teaching.

This year, the university held its first inaugural Research, Innovation & Digital Agri-Expo 2023. The November 2023 event endeavored to share research and innovation outputs with communities and industry partners and attracted more than 20 industry exhibitors. During the event, the top three student innovations were awarded cash awards to enable them improve on their innovation in preparation for commercialization phase.

MKU is currently market-testing its Wema black soap product which is envisioned to promote the use of locally available resources while creating opportunities for researchers to continuously innovate on the diverse products of indigenous trees.

“Towards achieving this, the university is strengthening the growing of more herbal based trees in its botanic garden at Happy Valley in Thika. This venture is currently leveraging on partnership with environmental champions in growing more trees and harnessing them for innovative and research-led products,” said the VC.

Other research-based activities and milestones worth noting include ongoing seven National Research Fund (NRF) funded projects and the four NRF-funded PhD students projects. The Vice-Chancellor’s Research and Innovation Grant of Sh1.5 million was awarded faculty members in September this year.

The institution is currently working with Partners for Care (PFC) to carry out research on waterborne disease prevalence in Kenya so as to support PFC’s initiative of distributing WaterSafe containers to all primary and secondary schools’ classrooms.

As part of its mandate to promote research activities, MKU hosted a four-day research agenda workshop under the auspices of “Award of Applied Research and Teaching for Sustainable Development in Africa” in November, 2023 jointly funded by DAAD and MKU.  The delegates interrogated topics on; sustainable development, climate and environment dynamics, social protection, innovation, entrepreneurship and micro-financing Sub-Sahara Africa.

Meanwhile, the university has strengthened the Staff Fitness Centre and various staff wellness initiatives. “We have also enhanced staff contractual period, medical cover and management of staff provident fund. All these are geared towards improving the welfare of staff,’ said the VC.

Congratulating the granduands and the varsity fraternity, Prof Jaganyi said; “Success is not overnight; it is when every day you get a little better than the day before.  It all adds up”.

 

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