SIAYA, Kenya, Dec 15 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has challenged academic and research institutions to play a leading role in the achievement of the Big 4 Agenda through research, innovation and technology interventions.
The President observed that while a few universities were gradually shifting towards supporting the economy through research, others remained largely teaching institutions, saying that trend must change.
“I would like to see universities drive the national research agenda along our priority areas. I also expect universities to deliberately pursue linkages with industry, where research findings can be commercialized and offer practical solutions to our national needs,” the President said.
“The government has provided resources through the national research fund for that specific purpose,” he added.
The Head of State spoke Friday at the 6th graduation ceremony of the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology (JOOUST) in Bondo town, Siaya County. A ceremony that was attended by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
During the occasion, the President and the former PM were each conferred with the Honorary Doctor of Sciences (Honoris Causa) degree for their distinguished contribution to the development of the country.
President Kenyatta reiterated that rapid social economic growth can be catalyzed by sound and relevant initiatives from universities.
“Indeed, globally, most universities are surplus centres, a trend we should experience here. Therefore, through research, innovations, industry linkages and partnerships, it is possible for our universities to contribute to the growth of our national resource base,” President Kenyatta said.
He pointed out that universities have the potential to continue driving the country’s technological and industrial development agenda as well as the advancement of knowledge in all fields of national endeavor, especially the advancement of the Big 4 development agenda.
The President commended the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology for enlisting academic programmes that are critical for the Big 4 Agenda including Agricultural and Food Sciences, Engineering, Spatial Planning and Natural Resource Management, and Health Sciences.
The President expressed satisfaction that the university is already advancing in the area of food security, saying it is positioned as Africa’s centre of excellence in sustainable use of insects for food and feeds in East and Southern Africa Region with the help of a competitively won World Bank grant.
“For a fairly young university, this is truly commendable and has placed this university on the world map and also elevated our country,” the President said.
He congratulated the graduands for their hard work, resilience and fortitude, noting that it is such determination that the country needs to move the economy to the next level.
“With the conferring of your degree today, you will not only be holding a certificate, you are now holding a key…a key to a door that previously was locked. With that key, you have limitless opportunities in front of you. Education is the great equalizer, positioning you for possibilities in your career and in your future,” the Head of State told the graduands.
While assuring of his government’s commitment to allocating more resources to support universities, President Kenyatta emphasized the need for prudent utilization public resources.
“We must ensure that resources that are within our control, are strictly used for the intended purposes,” President Kenyatta cautioned.
Former PM Odinga praised the spirit of the ‘handshake’ saying it has provided an opportunity for the country to unite and work together in development.
“We have agreed with President Kenyatta to work together and focus on building resilient institutions and a vibrant democracy. As a country, we must never again be divided on political and tribal lines,” he said.
He emphasized the need to invest in modern technology and equip academic institutions to accelerate the country’s development.
Later, President Kenyatta accompanied by the former Prime Minister laid a wreath at the mausoleum of the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga at the family home in Bondo before proceeding to Ugunja town where he launched the 27km Ugunja to Ruambwa road.
At Ugunja market, the President called for national unity so as to achieve sustainable development.
The Head of State reiterated that together with former PM Odinga, he will continue traversing the country to preach peace and unveil development projects.
Former PM Odinga said the handshake was a greeting of blessings, which is leading to more development for Kenyans.