Universities key to transformation of the Kenyan society

Mount Kenya University founder Simon Gicharu. Dr Gicharu is among the 65 top business leaders from across the world to be feted for the final awards of the World Entrepreneur of the Year that will be held Saturday. FILE PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA |

What you need to know:

  • US did not become the biggest economy and the most powerful country in the world by chance. It realised the link between higher education, research and development and made the necessary investments.

  • Today, the US prides itself in having the best universities in the world. In the latest ranking, American universities took all the top positions.

A new ranking of world universities is out, thanks to a Spanish firm Webometrics. Those who have attained top positions are basking in the glory while those at the bottom of the table are plotting how they will better their performances.

Such ranking helps us know what a university could be doing right or wrong. However, even more important is that we should use the results to critically assess the contribution of universities to the attainment of society’s goals. 

Essentially, universities exist to solve challenges societies face through research. That is why the relevance of programs offered in relation to the betterment of life is a key indicator during the ranking of universities.

The problems we face in Africa and Kenya in particular are unique and call for unique, preferably home-grown solutions. This is where local universities must come in strongly and design solutions, through research, that would better the lives of the people.

A few years ago, Kenya had challenge of limited university places in the wake of a growing number of students thirsty for higher education. To a large extent, this has been addressed with phenomenal expansion of universities in the recent past. The most remarkable progress has been growth of private universities which are playing a key role in providing opportunities to thousands of students to realise their dreams.

Besides filling the gap that had been left by the government for many years, private universities are also providing quality, practical and market-driven training.

Apart from teaching, universities are centres of research world over. This helps support development by shaping national policies. This way, universities play a key role in the realisation of development objectives of a country.

Skilled manpower

No country in the world has achieved major  socio-economic transformation without the contribution of universities in producing the necessary skilled manpower and designing real solutions her challenges through research.

Thus, there is a direct link between quality of education and economic development.

US did not become the biggest economy and the most powerful country in the world by chance. It realised the link between higher education, research and development and made the necessary investments.

Today, the US prides itself in having the best universities in the world. In the latest ranking, American universities took all the top positions. These universities have remained the masters of innovations and have always topped the charts in previous ranking.

 Harvard, the top university in the world and Yale are some of the institutions of higher learning US relies upon for top-notch discoveries. These universities have thus formed the foundation for America’s  socio-economic prosperity.

In Kenya, the University of Nairobi is at the top, seventh in Africa and 855 in the world. Among private institutions, Mt Kenya University improved from last year’s position 10 to 8, making it the third best private university in Kenya after Strathmore and Africa Virtual University.

Perhaps this should serve as a wake up call to some of the Kenyan universities which have been accused of doing little or no research.

 

Dr Simon Gicharu is the founder and chairman of Mount Kenya University

 

 

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.