Deputy President William Ruto has asked universities and other institutions of higher learning in the country to focus more on research and innovation to spearhead development.
Mr Ruto told universities to shift attention to research that could add value to the growth and development of the country.
Speaking during the launch of Embu University Endowment Fund, held at the institution’s grounds on Thursday, Mr Ruto said it was through research that learning institutions could offer programmes that can provide solutions to challenges facing the country.
“No country can be developed without research and innovation. We must therefore focus more on science and technology,” said Mr Ruto.
Present were Governor Martin Wambora (Embu),Senator Njeru Ndwiga (Embu), MPs John Muchiri (Manyatta), Cecily Mbarire (nominated), Eric Muchangi (Runyejes), Charles Njagagua (Mbeere North), Jane Wanjiku (Women rep, Embu), Mburu Kimani (Molo), Geoffrey Kingangi (Mbeere South) and former Senator Lenny Kivuti.
Mr Ruto, at the same time, said state funding to universities would be allocated based on students’ population and courses offered.
“It is time universities and institutions of higher learning focus less on numbers and more on relevance and quality of courses offered especially at a time when we have limited resources and competing priorities,” said Mr Ruto.
“As universities, we should not be part of the country’s problems by producing unemployable graduates but be the solution to problems facing our country,” added Mr Ruto.
Mr Ruto said universities must align their courses to the job market and economic development of the country.
“We must be concerned as universities about relevance of courses we offer and the quality of graduates we produce,” said Mr Ruto.
He said ‘our education’ in the recent past has been putting more attention to passing of examinations at the expense of acquiring knowledge, skills and competencies.
“Examinations are good but should not be used to determine success or failure of students. It’s good to pass examinations but better to acquire knowledge, skills and competencies,” said Mr Ruto.
He also asked universities to invest in programmes that define their individual identities.
“We must as Embu University, for example; to think of what kind of programmes defines us and use our resources to fund such programmes,” said Mr Ruto.
Furthermore, the Deputy President cautioned parents against forcing their children to take careers against their wishes.
“We must not apply undue pressure on our children to take courses to merely pass examinations and instead cultivate the culture of acquisition of knowledge, skills and competence that can enable them to effectively compete in the job market,” said Mr Ruto.
He said the Government has now been forced to heavily guard national examinations in what has since been dubbed ‘militarization of examinations’ because parents have infiltrated a corrupt system that aims to only ensure students pass examinations.
“Students, parents or guardians should know that passing or not passing examinations doesn’t define success or failure. We should know that children are gifted in different ways and should not be condemned as failures when they fail in examinations because they are gifted in other area,” said Mr Ruto.
The Deputy President also told managers of public resources to ensure transparency in the use of such funds.
He said there must be transparency on how resources were used to give confidence to those who give finances.
“Many well-wishers prefer to raise resources and provide so long as we use them in a transparent and innovative way,” said Mr Ruto.
“No financier would like to put money in an opaque organization,” added the Deputy President.
Former Embu Senator Lenny Kivuti who is the chairman of the fund’s trustees said the endowment fund would go a long way in helping students from poor family background concentrate on their studies uninterrupted.
Mr Kivuti assured that resources raised through the fund would only be used for the intended purpose so as to benefit deserving cases.
Governor Wambora said his government would work closely with the university in ensuring the success of the program.
“As county government we will work closely with the management of the university in ensuring successful implementation of the institution’s learning programmes,” said Governor Wambora.
The University’s Chancellor Prof Paul Musili urged well wishers to support the programme, saying it will greatly help boost the education of students from poor family backgrounds.
The Deputy President also addressed wananchi at Muthatari after opening the ultra modern Priva Nuts EPZ Macadamia processing complex in Manyatta Constituency.