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Kenyan universities and Harvard discuss collaboration

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Chancellors and vice-chancellors of various Kenyan public universities met a team from the Harvard University Center for African Studies to discuss collaboration.

The Harvard team is seeking partnership with Kenyan institutions with strong programmes in computer science, engineering, and climate science/change and its impact on agriculture and food security.

The conversation, essentially a consultative meeting, was held at the University of Nairobi on December 6, 2017.

In the meeting, various universities presented their areas of interest for collaboration. The discussions mainly focused on the important role universities play in research.

As a way forward, it was agreed that the Kenyan universities will come up with their areas of research interests and present to Harvard for further discourse and implementation. Further, the universities will work through the Kenya National Academy of Sciences, African Academy of Sciences and the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA).

“Our main interest is to find the areas of critical need for Kenyan universities,” said Prof.  Emmanuel Akyeampong, Faculty Director, Harvard University Center for African Studies. “We must find ways to continue with the conversation. We are interested in dealing with three constituencies; namely academic research, policy makers and entrepreneurs/philanthropists/private sector.”

Prof. Akyeampong, explained that Harvard has a presence in Africa with an office in South Africa, and is working on increasing capacity and developing human capital in the continent.

The Chairman, Chancellors Committee, Prof. Judith Bahemuka, called on the universities present to take advantage of the opportunity presented to them by the Harvard Team.

Dr. Vijoo Rattansi, Chancellor, University of Nairobi, took the opportunity to welcome the Harvard team to the University. She observed that the university is open for mutual collaboration.

Dr. Manu Chandaria, Chancellor, United States International University, USIU, stressed the need for practical research and practical education and not theory.

“We can leverage on technology and strengthen our engineering and science based courses,” he said. “By doing this, the education gap between Ivy League universities and our local universities can be bridged.”

Kisumu Governor, Prof. Anyang’ Nyon’go, who represented Kenya National Academy of Sciences, observed that there is a big disconnect between industry, academia and government. He said that the three must work together to not only develop but also implement policy.

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