Turkana University College has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Kenya Institute of Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA) that would focus mainly on research and innovation, institutional capacity building, internships and placements and public image enhancement.
KIPPRA through its mentorship programme for universities is aiming at enabling the University community including students and lecturers to have conversation on the Policy agenda for the government as well as areas that the University community could support in providing evidence required in the public policy process as well as mentoring the University students in preparing them for work life after campus.
Addressing the media after the signing of the MoU at the University’s boardroom on Thursday, KIPPRA executive director Rose Ngugi said the autonomous public institute KIPPRA has a mandate to build capacity that supports strengthening the evidence based public policy process.
“Students are actually our future in terms of development agenda and they need to be mainstreamed in the policy process at the very beginning so that they start understanding and providing clear direction on where they want their future to be,” said Ngugi.
She said that it was the right time to start partnerships to grow the University students and lecturers together in ensuring they understood the development agenda of the government.
The executive director pointed out that the mentorship programme would involve the students participating in policy debate which was very important since students have raw and rich information and ideas on policy which were key to developing the country.
Ngugi noted that KIPPRA’s main role is to provide evidence as it provides a platform with other government agencies and institutions that do implementation, monitoring and planning.
“We are providing a platform where Vision 2030 Secretariat, National Youth Council, Youth Enterprise Development Fund and where also private sector firm on small enterprises are going to have conversation with students on whatever they are doing, what has been achieved by the government, the challenges and the opportunities that the students can take up as they think about their future life from the University,” she said.
Turkana University College Acting Principal Prof. George Cheminingwa lauded the signing of the MoU with the KIPPRA that would enable the only institution of higher learning in the county to be globally esteemed particularly in research, teaching and also outreach.
“Today is a very important day. We are beginning a journey of collaboration in research particularly on public policy research and analysis with KIPPRA. We are going to have a long- term partnership and we hope we shall move on to collaborate on other areas of research and outreach,” said Prof. Cheminingwa.
On his part, KIPPRA chairperson Prof. Ben Sihanya who is also a lecturer the University of Nairobi Law School said that KIPPRA through its mentorship programme for universities seeks to address the disconnect that exists between policy, research and analysis and on one hand academics.
“Through the partnership, KIPPRA seeks to bridge the gap so that the research materials that are available at KIPPRA on policy, research and analysis are more easily available to our students, we have come up with some research material including full catalogue in hard copy and online which are availed,” said Sihanya.
He pointed out that there has been a lot of disconnect in Kenya and most of African countries in that policy, research and analysis is left for government institutions like KIPPRA, KEMRI, KEFRI and others while the universities mainly do academic research, a situation he said is not good for a country.
Sihanya commended Turkana University College (TUC) for establishing itself as a centre of excellence in niche areas rather than being a generic university.
Additionally, he said that as an institution of higher learning located in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands in North West of Kenya and relating closely with the South West of Ethiopia, South Sudan and Eastern Uganda, TUC provides a platform for research around issues concerning the cradle land of humanity, issue of oil and gas which are important in terms of academic policy research.
He also donated two copies of his book titled Intellectual Property and Innovation Law in Kenya, which he wrote from both academic and policy research perspectives to the Chairperson of the University council.
“I utilized the methodology that KIPPRA uses in policy analysis. We are looking forward to sharing more materials as we go a long in developing policy and research analysis and linking it to academic research in universities,” he said.
Present at the event was the University Council representative Eng. Justus Wambutura who is also the chairperson for Finance, Planning and Infrastructure in the University.
He said the MoU would enable the University to conduct more research to have the capacity to develop solutions to the local problems like uplifting the academic standards of the people in the area.
“One of the things we started which was very unusual for the University was that we have adult literacy classes to push up some of our staff who had not made up to Form Four to higher level of education because according to Commission for University Education (CUE), we are not supposed to employ anybody below Form Four,” said Wambutura.
He further noted that the University is looking forward to introducing courses that were relevant to the local needs like introduction of courses in dry lands farming, fisheries, oil and gas, maritime and human evolution biology.
“This is the cradle land of mankind. We have teamed up with universities in the United States like Stony Brook University to start courses on human evolution biology. We are the only university in Africa offering masters in human evolution biology. As young as we are, we have already cut a niche worldwide,” he said.
The Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA) is an autonomous public institute established in May 1997 to develop capacities for policy formulation, implementation and evaluation within the national and county governments.