Speech by Dr. Fred Matiangi, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Education, during the 6th graduation ceremony of Dedan Kimathi University of Technology, April 28th, 2017

 

 

 

REPUBLIC OF KENYA

 

MINISTRY OF EDUCATION

SPEECH BY DR. FRED MATIANGI, CABINET SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF EDUCATION, DURING THE 6TH GRADUATION CEREMONY OF DEDAN KIMATHI UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY, APRIL 28TH, 2017

 

Chancellor Dedan Kimathi University of Technology, Prof. Shellemiah Keya

Our Distinguished Guest, Your Excellency, President Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki

Chairman of Council, Dr. Jane Nakang’o,

Other Council members

Vice Chancellor, Dedan Kimathi University of Technology, Prof. P. N. Kioni

Students

Invited Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

I would like to start by particularly welcoming, His Excellency, Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki, the former President of the Republic of South Africa, to Kenya, and, specifically to Dedan Kimathi University of Technology. This is indeed a special occasion for the University community as it gets the opportunity to interact with you, on a personal level, and to reflect on your great accomplishments and contributions to Africa and indeed to humanity. Feel most welcome Your Excellency.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted to join the graduands, together with their families and friends, and the entire Dedan Kimathi University of Technology (DeKUT) fraternity in celebrating this sixth graduation ceremony. I take this opportunity to congratulate all the graduands on your great accomplishments in your respective academic programmes. I recognize that underlying this success is your hard work, resilience, discipline and commitment to studies. The fact that you are graduating today is a clear testimony that you have successfully gone through the academic rigors that have culminated in you being conferred with an academic award.

Graduation, which is the crowning of one’s academic pursuit, is an emotive and reflective moment of celebrating not just the success of one’s academic achievements, but also the end of a phase of life. It encompasses taking stock and reflecting on one’s achievements, as well as mapping out the way forward. Today marks the commencement of your intellectual journey to independence, life-changing careers and discovery. Consequently, you will be expected to significantly contribute, not just to the development of self, but also to societal, national, regional and global development.

I take this occasion to remind you of your national and moral duty to uphold the highest levels of ethics, integrity, patriotism and other national values. I urge you to be men and women of honour, no matter the circumstances. Let humility and discipline, be your lifetime companions. In a fast paced world that is rapidly yielding innovations and challenges alike, the only timeless attributes of our nation are our values as citizens and the enduring existence of those values in our pursuit of knowledge that we apply in building our society. The posture of a highly competitive and fast paced professional environment should not worry you if you embrace the highest standards of ethics and professionalism.

Ladies and Gentlemen, as you may be aware, Kenya is characterized as a nation with a youth bulge with more than 50% of the population being under the age of 25 years. It is my hope that as a nation we can reap dividends from these resilient, innovative and vibrant young people.

It is, however, astounding to think of the number of graduates of universities who are unemployed, and thus still dependent on others for their survival. The question that begs to be addressed is how well our universities are preparing the students for the world of work. The two main parameters that would facilitate response to this question relate to quality and relevance of university education offered by the various universities. These would relate to formal employment of our young people as well as innovation and self-employment of our graduates.

Ladies and Gentlemen, various stakeholders in university education, including employers, students and the general public have raised concerns on the quality of the academic programmes offered in the universities in Kenya and their relevance to the labour market. A recent national audit carried out by the Commission for University Education revealed the need for individual universities to earnestly address the issue of quality university education.

In spite of this concern, I am aware that not all academic programmes fail to produce highly professional and talented graduates. At certain times it is the employers themselves who in their bondage with precedent or old ways of doing things fail to recognize this talent and take advantage of recent knowledge attained through modern university education. However, this is more the exception rather than the norm.

I, therefore, call upon the leadership of the University, being one of the seventy one (71) universities in Kenya, to examine the institution’s quality assurance structures, systems and procedures with a view of ensuring that they are effective in contributing towards the highest standards of education. In addition, I require of the leadership of the University to institute mechanisms for regular review of academic programmes in order to ensure that they are relevant to the labour market and that they meet individual, societal, national and global needs.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is paramount that graduates of universities have the capacity to impact the social, political, environmental and economic aspects of our country and also of the region and the world at large. Such graduates should have the necessary competences to transform workplaces and communities and also to ultimately impact socio-economic development.

In particular, Kenya’s economy is in transition towards a middle income status. This transition requires a huge reservoir of manpower trained in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The country requires people with qualifications in specialized areas, which have already been identified in the Kenya Vision 2030.  I am pleased to note that Dedan Kimathi University of Science and Technology has focused its attention on offering academic programmes that are in line with the national development agenda. In this respect more than 80% of its programmes relate to STEM areas.

I would also like to see an increased focus on research and innovation, particularly in STEM related areas, within the University. This should equally translate to conference papers, publications in peer-reviewed journals and patents that would contribute to national development. In addition, the University should speedily take advantage of the government’s support to research and innovation and engage the Ministry of Education and related Semi-Autonomous Government Agencies (SAGAs), including the National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI), National Research Fund (NRF) and the Kenya Innovation Agency (KeNIA), in this respect.

Kenya is also in discussion with several global partners, including nations, on greater partnership in STEM related areas. I expect Dedan Kimathi University of Technology to take advantage of these partnerships in order to strengthen its STEM related programmes.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I assure you that my Ministry is committed to reforming the education sector to ensure that our education system is credible, of high quality and relevant to society. Our resolve to infuse quality assurance policies and processes in the education sector is now very clear to all. I guarantee you that my Ministry will be unrelenting until Kenya reoccupies her position as the producer of the best workforce and best brains in the continent.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I take this opportunity to congratulate the newly appointed members of the University Council. I am sure that you have, by now, realized that your job is already spelt out for you. I urge you to swiftly settle down and work towards provision of an enabling environment for the achievement of the objectives of university education in Kenya. In addition, I am looking forward to receiving your implementation strategy on the fifteen commitments made during the induction programme carried out in Naivasha earlier this month. Your support to the University should go beyond promotion of teaching, research, innovation and community service to ensuring efficiency and effectiveness in the various systems of the University, in line with its vision and the law.

Finally, let me thank all of you, including the Chancellor, University Council, Management Board, Senate, staff, parents, guardians and students, for working so tirelessly towards ensuring that the graduands are prepare for this Ceremony. I take great recognition of the fact that you have put in place a biometric system that is able account for all the students of the University. This is very impressive and I urge all other universities to emulate this example.

Once again, I congratulate the graduands for the sacrifice and efforts made towards attainment of this honour.

Thank You and may God bless you.