The Cabinet Secretary for Education, Ambassador Amina Mohamed has called for the development of essential competencies that will produce the appropriate human capital for industrialization of the region.
Ambassador Mohamed said the focus should be on developing average human capital as an appreciation that the adaptation and diffusion of technologies in industry and society requires a certain threshold of education among the populace.
She, however, noted that the country and region should also develop a pool of upper tail knowledge—the skills held by top engineers and entrepreneurs that enable a society to innovate and foster the type of rapid technological progress that characterized the industrial revolution.
The CS made the remarks during the official opening of the 6th Academia, Public-Private Partnership Forum last week. She was flanked by the Cabinet Secretary for East African Community and Northern Corridor Development, Republic of Kenya, Hon. Peter Munya, Principal Secretary, State Department for University Education and Research, Prof. Micheni Ntiba, Secretary General, East African Community, Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko, and Vice-Chancellor, Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Professor Justus Gitari Mbae
The forum, which ran under the theme ‘The East African Common Higher Education Area: Opportunities for Industrialization through Academia-Public-Private Partnerships,’ was organised by Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA), the East African Business Council (EABC), the East African Science and Technology Commission (EASTECO), and the East African Development Bank (EADB).
Ambassador Mohamed said that public funding for academic research (R&D) and curricula was poorly aligned with the changing needs of the knowledge economy, saying this was compounded by declining quality and inadequate infrastructure
“We are seeking creative ways of managing the challenges constraining the university sub-sector,” she noted.
She said Brazil, China and Korea grappled with the same challenges that we are faced but broke through the mould by modernizing higher education, supporting for STEM and Research, apart from collaborative investments by both governments and the private sector.
She said the government would use a similar model of investing in higher education.
“Successful collaborative efforts between the government, academia and private sector in education are widespread – in US, Europe and Asia – and can also work in our region and continent,” she noted.
“We aim to produce youth who are equipped with diverse skills, valuable hands-on experience and technical knowledge that will enable them creatively tackle pressing challenges at personal, community and national level,” she noted.
The Chairperson, EAC Council of Ministers and Third Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for EAC Affairs, Republic of Uganda, Kirunda Kivejinje challenged academics in the region to provide a leadership that would enable the region to have the capacity to exploit the natural resources it is endowed with.
“We are not going to develop unless you lead us,” Kivejinje observed, saying it was not lacking resources the region suffered from, but lack of orientation by academicians and professors.