The Mombasa County has entered into a partnership with a Malaysian university in a deal that will have students from the county wishing to study at the institution pay less fees.
The deal with Management and Science University (MSU) of Malaysia also seeks to offer affordable education to students from the county who wish to be taught by lecturers from the Malaysian university in public universities within the county.
Through the Elimu Development Corporation (EDC) — a programme that aims at improving the economic and social welfare of those below 25 years by forming partnerships — the County has committed to provide fees scholarships for university students under the new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
Under the agreement, part-time scholarships would be factored under the Governor’s Award International Programme (GAIP).
Governor Hassan Joho and MSU President Mohammed Shukri AB Yajid signed the deal at the governor’s office in Kizingo attended by university officials and high school students.
The two parties also agreed to partner with universities in Mombasa and from the coastal region to improve quality of teaching at universities, enhance research and to provide professional development for lecturers.
Mombasa Executive member for education Tendai Mtana said undergraduate programs cost as high as Sh3million at international universities which many families are unable to afford.
“This partnership will also reduce cost of education by up to 55 per cent because of our GAIP scholarship programme,’’ he said.
The programme would be implemented as fast as possible and that the first lot of students who will benefit through the scholarship are first years, set to join various universities in September 2016, he added.
“It is important for counties to learn from other countries in order to move forward and this MoU marks a first for us in terms of development,” said Governor Joho.
The new partnership, also comes in hand with the county’s Vision 2035, of being a knowledge city, he said.
Prof Yajid said Mombasa has the potential to improve its education standards to international level through partnering with other universities to improve its education quality and standard.
“This is a strategic framework which is going to carry the county forward in terms of development. To move a society, you must invest in education,” said Prof Yajid.
He added that MSU will hire and manage technical staff, provide technical assistance, and mentorship to lecturers and county officers.
“MSU agrees to have overall authority and responsibility to contract external consultants to evaluate the project implementation,” he added.
The Malaysian university also agreed to ensure that all project activities undertaken are in line with the current national and county education strategies and policies.
The County government agreed to provide easy access to MSU to conduct its activities within universities in the county and support training and learning.
Directors from University of Nairobi (UoN), Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology (JKUAT), Technical University of Mombasa (TUM), Moi University, Kenyatta University and Mombasa Technical Training Institute (MTTI) were ecstatic as they welcomed the initiative saying it will improve quality of teaching.
JKUAT director Fridah Simba said majority of the Kenyan students lack international exposure due to lack of school fees or opportunities brought closer to them through exchange programmes.
“This is a great initiative, a beautiful thing to ever happen to students and lecturers of Mombasa universities. They can now learn with ease at MSU or have their lecturers teaching them here,” Dr Simba said.
Kenyatta University’s director Francis Kiarie said the partnership will enable them to produce all round students who can get jobs within and outside the country owing to their international exposure.
University of Nairobi director Jackson Maalu said the partnership goes in line with their university’s vision of being a world class institution.
“Mombasa is known as a county of leisure alone but with such initiatives, it will grow further,” said Moi University Coast campus Coordinator Stanley Kavale.
According to the MOU, all parties agree to conduct joint periodic monitoring, reviews and planning for project activities to ensure effectiveness and efficiency.
They also agreed to conduct periodic independent monitoring visits and share findings with each other.
They agreed to authorize a person to represent their respective organizations to ensure the timely and effective implementation of all activities within the project.