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DP Ruto receives PhD, President Uhuru graces graduation ceremony

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The 60th University of Nairobi graduation has gone into the books of history as one where a siting Deputy President in Kenya received a Doctoral Degree.

The nation witnessed the Deputy President, H.E. William Ruto receive his Doctoral Degree in Plant Ecology in the presence of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The Chancellor, Dr. Vijoo Rattansi conferred Degrees and awarded Diplomas to a record 9,561 graduates. Among the graduates was the Cabinet Secretary Hon. Eugene Wamalwa and Deputy Chief Justice Hon. Lady Justice Philomena Mwilu graduated with Masters in Law.
In congratulating the graduates, President Kenyatta had a message for the UoN community.
“We are proud of what this University is doing in imparting education in Kenya. This is an education that is geared to making Kenya a better country for each and every one of us,” he said. “Knowledge is the ability to understand who we are as a people, rise above pettiness and see the future. A knowledgeable person imparts knowledges with a hope of creating unity, harmony and a hope among the people. Let us rise above pettiness and build a cohesive, united and prosperous nation. Let us contribute positively to the well-being of our nation.”
In her speech, the Chancellor encouraged the graduates to keep a positive attitude and have an undying spirit.
“We believe that we have moulded you to be eagles and all you need is a launching pad to soar to the skies. Whether you chose to soar or remain grounded looking up to the skies with scorn may depend entirely on how you seize and leverage opportunities as and when they present themselves to you in the days, weeks and months to come,” she said. “Like the corn you all have great potential for greatness. Strive to do good and right, strive to serve selflessly, strive to keep going in the face of trials and tribulations and, at its own time, your time, success will surely come knocking.”
The Chancellor also had a word for the University management and staff.
“As you all appreciate, the university has over the last 5 years sailed through some serious challenges, occasioned in part by the lack of a Council. With certainty at the governance level with the renewal of the Chancellor’s term and the presence of a presiding Council, the University could not have been better poised to conquer the skies,” said Dr. Rattansi. “With a newly reconstituted senior management team, I know the injection of new blood with unique perspectives and fresh ideas will greatly enrich management for efficiency and effectiveness. Though the road ahead may be tough, I believe together and with synergies directed to the same cause and channeled with exemplary unity of purpose, we are more than equal to the challenge.”
Speaking on behalf of the Cabinet Secretary, Education, the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Public Service Youth and Gender Affairs, Prof. Margaret Kobia congratulated the graduates on their achievements. Prof. Kobia highlighted some of the major achievements in higher education sector including the launch and operationalization of the Office of Career Services across all universities.
“The government is keen to grow the research kitty to Kshs. 3 billion which will be allocated to universities to enhance enrollment in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), agriculture and fisheries to build capacity to deliver the Big 4 Agenda. We have recorded an increase in enrollment in STEM courses,” she said. “The Ministry is also engaging university students as critical players in the education reforms. One achievement has been the successful adoption and operationalization the HELB smart card solution to handle student loan disbursement. Indeed, we have achieved a lot but there is more that needs to be done.”
While congratulating the graduates, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Peter Mbithi revealed that the 9,561 graduates is the highest number of candidates ever presented in a single congregation in the history of the University of Nairobi.
“Cumulatively, we have this year conferred 155 PhDs. These numbers have been realized as a result of the dedication and commitment of the University faculty, supported by our devoted administrative staff, the Government of Kenya and other strategic stakeholders, who continue to work with us to ensure that we produce quality manpower to meet the acute shortage of PhD expertise in the country,” said Prof. Mbithi.
Further, the Vice-Chancellor addressed issues on the implementation of the competence-based curriculum.
“The University of Nairobi takes cognizance of the need to continuously review and align our curricular to the evolving dynamics of the labour market. We encourage the ongoing discourse in the review of our education system,” he said. “The debate is a healthy one and all stakeholders should take advantage of the window provided by the government to tender their inputs and prepare sufficiently for implementation of the competence-based curriculum. To this end, as a University, we have constituted a team to develop a policy paper that will guide our preparedness.”
In her inaugural graduation speech, the Chair of Council, Prof. Julia Ojiambo called on the Government to consider remitting long outstanding pension funds arising from the signed Collective Bargain Agreements (CBA)s 2010-2013 and the CBA 2013-2017.
“This will give the University some much needed relief as the University draws funding from the exchequer to meet mandatory obligations,” she said. “Over the last few years, the levels of capitation to the university from the exchequer has declined significantly. Revenues generated from module II programs have peaked and given the recent developments in the higher education space, this revenue is in danger of total wipe-out. We will do all we can in terms of cost containment including austerity measures that have already been instituted but that will not be enough.”
Prof. Ojiambo further invited the Government to review the capitation model and augment capitation for old established universities such as the University of Nairobi.
“As currently structured, enormous public university funding challenges may lead to a total collapse of public university education to the detriment of the masses and the country,” she added.
Speaking on behalf of the University of Nairobi Alumni Association Chairman, Mr. Isaac Awuondo called on the graduates to join the association and give back to their alma mater. Mr. Awuondo further expounded on the association’s initiatives.
“At the Association, we have empowered our small teams referred to as Alumni Chapters to cascade the Association’s activities as well as establish their own projects for the benefit of their disciplines and campuses.  The Alumni Chapters are discipline and Campus based,” he said. “Occasionally within the chapters, we host events that are meant to bring graduates together so as to network, reminisce and re-unite.  The chapters play a critical role in providing guidance, role-modeling and shaping the future of faculties/schools in terms of curricula development of the academic programmes. So far, a total of seventeen chapters have been launched.”