News of research funding is welcome

Tirop Koskey (left), the chairman of the National Research Fund's (NRF's) board of trustees, Belio Kipsang (centre), the Principal Secretary of the State Department of Basic Education in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, and NRF Chairperson Millicent Omugaka in Nairobi on November 10, 2015. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NAIROBI

What you need to know:

  • Beyond teaching, the currency within academia in every well-performing economy is publications and grants.

  • This is a vicious cycle; good publications increase chances of winning grants, and funded grants enable good research and, subsequently, good publications.

  • In the absence of research funding, academics are left to teach with little engagement in research, consuming knowledge without creating it, articulating societal problems without solving them.

  • To fill this gap, Kenyan researchers, like many of their counterparts in most of Africa, have turned to the West, mainly working as collaborators and rarely as principal applicants, to compete for grants funded either by private foundations or from the research budgets of other governments.

  • Whereas the priorities set by these donor funds have sometimes mirrored the aspirations of Kenyans, this does not always hold true.

The Kenya National Research Fund recently called for proposals in perhaps one of the most reassuring indications that the country is on the right track in solving some of its most pressing problems. The world over, investment in research and innovation is regarded as a catalyst for growth and improvement of human opportunity.

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