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MKU to host the first CAREED International Conference outside the UWS of Scotland

MKU Vice Chancellor Prof Deogratius Jaganyi (left) MKU chancellor Prof John Struthers, council member Jonah Aiyabei, Principal Secretary for Industry at the Ministry of Investments, Trade and Industry, Dr Juma Mukhwana and University Council Chairman,  Dr Vincent Gaitho {right} during the institution's 24th graduation ceremony held at Graduation Pavillion in Thika town where more than 5,700 graduands were awarded with  various degrees, diplomas and certificates. 
Mount Kenya University (MKU) will in July next year host the 8th International Conference of the Center for African Research on Enterprise and Economic Development (CAREED) in Thika. 

This was revealed by MKU chancellor Prof. John Struthers during the 24th Graduation ceremony held on Friday Dec. 8th 2023. While terming this as significant milestone in the history of CAREED, Prof. Struthers said that will be the first time that CAREED will host its conference outside University of the West (UWS) of Scotland and more significantly in Africa.

Other international partnerships ongoing include the Erasmus Plus sponsorship with the University of St. Cyril and Methodius in Trnava, Slovakia, in Europe, which was unveiled through the first visit of three MKU members of staff. A reciprocal visit to MKU is expected to take place in January 2024.

The chancellor said the MKU Kwinta partnership is also being implemented at the college’s Botanic Garden, through mass propagation of commercially viable medicinal plants, conservation of endangered plants species, supporting the Presidential Initiative of growing of 15 billion trees between 2022 and 2032.

An initiative towards scholarship support of the needy and bright students has also been enhanced through the new partnership with the Ugandan Based organisation called Mercy Beyond Borders. “Several new initiatives with a number of UK universities on SDGs promotion, Medical School support, environmental conservation, and research and capacity development are under way,” said the Chancellor.

“As scholars, we strive to serve the community to the best of our capacities through our core mandates of teaching, research and community engagement,” Prof Struthers said.

On his part, MKU Vice-Chancellor Prof. Deogratius Jaganyi said institution had remained resilient and continued to strive in enrolling students for various academic programmes and offering quality education. 

“Pursuant to compliance with the Commission for University Education (CHE) quality standards, MKU has continued to position itself as a premier institution of higher education. Recently, the Commission inspected Embu, Machakos and Malindi Regional ODEL Centres and the Centres have complied with the CUE standards threshold,” he said.

The VC added that the Postgraduate Center in Nairobi Campus had been enhanced to support postgraduate students. The varsity has also introduced three new programmes: Master of Pharmacy in Cosmetic Technology, Master of Pharmacy in Industrial Pharmacy, and Master of Science in Industrial Pharmacognosy and Traditional Medicine.

The Chief guest at the graduation ceremony Dr. Juma Mukhwana, Principal Secretary for the State Department of Industry in the Ministry of Investments, Trade, and Industry noted that the Small-Scale industries played a critical role Kenya’s economic development by employing 14.1 million persons, representing about 93% of the national workforce. 

“This sector contributes 24% to the GDP. I appreciate this university for equipping young people with the right skills, knowledge, and activities to play in our market and at the international level,” he noted.

Dr. Mukhwana said that the government will continue to promote partnerships between SMEs, academia, and the private sector in skill development, promoting development of new technologies, and creating policies that encourage research and innovation in the country. 

“This collaboration was manifested during the Covid-19 pandemic period; during which many innovations were developed and deployed into the market,” he noted.

The PS decried the many challenges bedeviling the linkages between learning institutions and SMEs, such as minimal absorption of new technologies by SMEs, inappropriate skill critical to their growth, commercialization of innovative technologies; and a low appreciation of science and its contribution to the economy.

He said Small-scale industries, often the backbone of many economies, play a vital role in generating employment, driving innovation, and contributing significantly to local value addition and employment creation. This is where the synergy between higher education and small-scale industries becomes pivotal.

Collaborative efforts, such as research partnerships, technology transfer, mentorship programs, and internships, can facilitate the exchange of knowledge, expertise, and resources. Such linkages empower small-scale industries with the latest advancements in technology, managerial skills, and market insights, thus enhancing their productivity and competitiveness.

“MKU’s support to the students and researchers has led to the development of research-oriented projects that have continued to transform lives. This support has led to development of several innovations that have been internationally acknowledged and awarded; and which have been instrumental in supporting the establishment of small-scale industrial start-ups,” he said.

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