Varsity urged to lead national renewal
The chief executive officer of the Nation Media Group Linus Gitahi has commended the St Paul's University for striving to maintain high education standards.
He told participants during the installation of a new vice chancellor Tuesday that the varsity's move is informed by the need to position itself to meet the challenges of a globalised world.
In his address, Mr Gitahi outlined 10 prayers for the new vice chancellor, Prof Joseph Galgalo, whose shoulders the mandate to make St. Paul University a centre of excellence rests.
Among the prayers were that the university should lead the campaign to breathe life and mould Kenyan youth to live significant lives.
He also urged Prof Galgalo "to lead outreach programmes to impact youth spiritually, intellectually, emotionally and socially for the glory of God".
Below is the full text of Mr Gitahi's address:
Let me begin by congratulating the outgoing Vice Chancellor, Dr Timothy Wachira, who has ably steered this university during the past six years. During Dr. Wachira’s tenure, the university went through the accreditation process leading to the award of a national charter in 2007.
Similarly, let me also applaud and commend the newly installed Vice Chancellor, Rev Canon Prof. Joseph Galgalo. Your installation today points to the University’s quest and single-minded devotion towards the attainment of it’s vision for sustainable impacting of knowledge, skills and values for global service.
It demonstrates the university’s ability to regenerate and renew itself to confront challenges of the day. Further, it shows the university is able to manage change, is mature and subscribes to the cardinal principles of good governance. Any successful institution must have systems and procedures for succession and transition.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The newly installed Vice Chancellor’s profile and citation suggests pillars of a great institution with a legacy of scholarly and faith based leadership.
The latest edition of the campus magazine – ‘The Voice’ aptly cites Prof. Galgalo as the little boy from Marsabit whose achievements, academic distinctions and considerable contribution to humanity far outpaces the less than 45 years it has taken to achieve them.
I am confident that St. Paul’s University has installed an accomplished thinker, a visionary leader who will continue in the path of building a strong training tradition that started in 1903.
St Paul’s University has remained true to its calling and has established itself as a leading Christian university. It is therefore not a surprise that many top-notch and respected theologians and religious scholars passed through this institution. They have demonstrated through their ministry that they received a strong foundation from this institution.
The Chancellor, Distinguished Guests Ladies and Gentlemen,
University education has gone through exponential growth in Kenya in the past two decades. Whereas there was hardly any chartered private university in Kenya 20 years ago, today, we have 11 fully accredited private universities. In addition, there are eight private universities operating with letters of interim authority and five others with certificate of registration.
Although commendable, this signals several challenges in higher education. First, it is clear that despite the expansion of universities, we still do not have sufficient opportunities for students graduating from high schools every year.
Only 40% of all qualified students secure a place in Kenya’s universities. Secondly and arising from the first is that the demand for higher education has seen the creation and expansion of universities without coherence. In addressing the demand side, the supply side has been ignored. We have ended up with universities without adequate learning and teaching resources.
Thirdly, our universities have expanded their academic programmes although suffice it to say their menu remain the same. New universities simply copy courses already offered at existing institutions. The universities lack diversity, hence deny their students the opportunity to leapfrog into the sphere of innovation.
Fourthly, leveraging technology for teaching and research remains low or non-existent at many of our universities. Because information and communication technologies have revolutionized business and industry, institutions of higher learning are now faced with both a challenge and an opportunity to generate technology savvy graduates. Faculty has no option but to change scholarly approaches by adopting technology in their teaching and research methodologies.
Allow me now to shift my attention now to the heart of my address to you today. At the epicentre of St. Paul’s University objectives, sits the aspiration to grow and nurture high academic standards. At the centre of any industry whether media for me or academia for many here, the quality of inputs coupled with standardised processes will yield high quality products that meet set expectations.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Allow me to make 10 prayers for Prof. Galgalo who now takes up the role of Vice Chancellor, and on whose shoulders the mandate to make St. Paul University a centre of excellence now rests.
In the process leading to Kenya’s constitution referendum, the Church took a stand on account of the constitution’s provisions for Muslim courts, abortion and same sex relationships. Today, these issues have now assumed global conversations in countries such as the US where Republicans who prescribe to a conservative philosophy are facing off with Democrats who follow a liberal philosophy.
I am convinced that the Church shaped the constitution debates and saved this nation from degenerating to divisions along ethnic lines. The church pointed the nation to the need to address contentious issues through dialogue. The constitution debates became focused on fundamental issues and their fulfillment thanks to a large extent to the Church and the stance it took at a very crucial time in our lives.
The Church’s work is not done and St. Paul University as a premier Christian university in Kenya must continue to play its role in keeping the issues on the radar through academic vigilance and to monitor the implementation with the same rigor.
I pray that St. Paul University will lead policy discussions and constitutional debate on behalf and of the Church and therefore fulfill God’s divine intentions for Kenya.
Secondly, youth unemployment is a significant problem in Kenya. Kenya’s economy is currently dependent on agriculture, but youth are moving to urban areas in large numbers.
Therefore. most new entrants to the labour force must choose between working in small- scale enterprises and being self- employed. These factors have led to high levels of youth unemployment. Consumer Insight a leading research firm has done extensive work among the youth in Kenya and has revealed some startling results that show that our youth are increasingly becoming hopeless.
--60% of the Kenyan population is under the age of 35
--The Kenyan unemployment rate is approximately 40%
--An estimated 64% of unemployed Kenyans are youth.
--13% of Kenyan youth would, given a choice, just sleep.
--40% of all our youth above 20 years don’t attend church or mosque.
--18% of our youth state that malls and shopping centre are their favourite pass time.
--60% of our youth don’t fear death or HIV and Aids.
First, I pray that St. Paul’s University will lead the campaign to breathe life and mould our youth to hope and significance.
Secondly, In keeping to your mandate of teaching, to researching and linking to community, I pray that you will lead outreach programmes to impact youths spiritually, intellectually, emotionally and socially for the glory of God.
It is clear that the role of universities in innovation is critical for economic growth. Universities develop highly skilled people who move between industry and academia; they incubate businesses and provide expertise; they produce knowledge that is used by technology businesses; they provide public space in which people from various overlapping branches of research meet.
They are the hotbeds for management theories, breakthrough research and hubs for process reengineering. Universities are at the centre of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, allowing for the placement of graduates in industry to stimulate innovation.
My third and fourth prayer is that St. Paul University will generate pipelines of innovation and seek for partnerships to make them a reality for the realisation of national economic growth. I pray for interface with industry to encourage collaboration between academia and practice and enhance the employability of students from this University.
To this end Nation Media Group commits itself to do the following with the University. We have offered a grand prize to be awarded to the best 4thyear undergraduate Communications and Journalism student commencing in 2011 academic year.
To meet the challenge of interfacing with Industry, Nation Media Group, at its own expense, will situate a senior journalist in residence at St. Paul University Communications Department once every year for three months.
The individual will teach and research alongside other faculty members. NMG will also make available two internship positions per year for the top students in Communications. The University can decide to award these to the students they deem deserving.
Traditional teaching and research methodologies have no place in the current technological society. Faculty has no option but to change their approaches. The challenge is a lack of preparedness for both infrastructure as well as human capacity to maximise on available ICT opportunities.
Failure to adapt to new technologies relegates an institution to the tail end and producing ill-equipped graduates who cannot compete effectively in the job market, business and innovation.
My fifth prayer is that St. Paul’s University will build itself to be a hallmark of success and excellence in Communications training for Kenya.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) estimates that at the end of December 2009, out of a world population of 7 billion, 1.9 billion had access to a computer at home; 4.6 billion were subscribed to mobile technologies; 17.8% of the world population had access to fixed telephone lines and 9.5% of users were connected to mobile broadband. ICT has helped create a community of users that transcends natural and political frontiers.
We live in a world of instantaneous connection and it is only a matter of time that the term virtual will become an acceptable buzzword. That future is here today and technology has allowed for virtual communication between people thousands of miles apart. It has availed platforms for unprecedented information dissemination and networking.
My sixth prayer is that Information Communication Technologies will become central to this university’s interactions, scholarship and research work. I look forward to answered prayer as the next guest of honor will deliver his keynote address virtually from a different location.
Ivy League institutions in the US have benefitted over the years from legacy funds bestowed to them by generations of wealthy patrons who having made wealth have sought to promote scholarship and research for the good of humanity. From Warren Buffet to Bill Gates, billions of US dollars are now available to these universities.
Kenya has now come to age with several Kenyans who have consolidated wealth from independence and are now in their 80s and 90s and who if convinced would follow suit. What is lacking is a strategic opportunity packaged appropriately to pave way for legacy contributions for academic research in Kenya. I think it is time for institutions like St. Paul’s University to lead the way in this venture.
My seventh prayer is that the university would take research and development funding seriously in line with many other great universities with an equally rich tradition.
Eight, I also pray that you would set up legacy funding programmes to allow many Kenyans of faith and means put their estate into nurturing academic and research excellence.
Nine, I pray that this university would be the first to find deep financial resources from this source and by so doing create sustainable funding for scholarship. Lead the way St Paul’s University.
Finally, in leading an institution such as St. Paul’s University, Prof. Galgalo will certainly be faced with the exceptional and demanding responsibilities that come with serving God and humanity especially whist considering human inadequacies as we all bring to the table. As a Christian leader serving in the private sector, I have learnt that to make the greatest impact one must connect to the higher goal, the upward call, and our great commission.
One of the great benefits of finding and fulfilling one’s life calling is that it settles the question of what constitutes success. When you define success in terms of God’s purpose for life, the standards change fundamentally.
True success is not what you’ve done in comparison to others but rather what you’ve done compared to what God assigned you to do. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is.
Only in your calling can you experience lasting joy, significant impact and true victory over our challenges and responsibilities.
I pray that Prof. Galgalo and your entire team will define your success as God defines it.