Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST), formerly Western University College of Science and Technology, held its 18th graduation ceremony on Friday, December 9, 2022, at its MMUST Graduation Square.
The university, which received its Charter in 2006, has, since its inception, churned out over 42, 000 graduates in various academic levels ranging from Certificate to Post-Graduate.
Various guests graced the university’s graduation event with President William Ruto being the Chief Guest.
This was the President’s first graduation ceremony to preside over since he took over as Kenya’s Fifth President.
The other guests included Prime Cabinet Secretary (CS) Musalia Mudavadi, Education CS Ezekiel Machogu, Sports CS Ababu Namwamba, Speaker of the National Assembly Moses Wetangula, Kakamega County Governor Fernandes Barasa and Senator Bonny Khalwale, among others.
Various speakers noted the challenges that plague Kenya’s university education.
MMUST Vice Chancellor, Prof. Solomon Igosangwa Shibairo, noted that education in Kenya has been blamed for the lack of relevance to the current realities and job market.
To address this situation, Prof. Shibairo said that MMUST has prioritized quality as its driving force.
That is why the institution has narrowed down on a few programs for effectiveness, the key being Engineering-TVET and Health Sciences.
MMUST, for example, is the only university offering the Bachelor of Science in Optometry in Kenya, a course offered only in five other African countries.
He decried the poverty levels in the country, for they adversely impinge on academics.
For instance, out of the 16, 000 students who enrolled for various courses in MMUST in 2022, only 13, 000 sat for their exams. The rest missed out for lack of school fees.
Prof. Shibairo revealed that the MMUST is facing financial hiccups, a fact that has hindered it from employing more professors and lecturers permanently.
Reliance on part-time lecturers is slowing the institution’s progress. The low capitation is reflected in the lack of essential infrastructures such as hostels, student centre, staff quarters, and recreation facilities.
Dr. Jane Mutua, Council chair, noted that despite the challenges, MMUST will not renounce its mission of producing graduates who will positively impact society and be change-makers in the world of work.
Education Cabinet Secretary, Ezekiel Machogu, lauded the university for embracing Science and technology.
“Science and technology is indispensable in achieving sustainable development and being competitive in the 21st Century,” CS Machogu said.
He observed that learning never ends; hence graduates should continue to add value to their careers even after school so that they can effectively repackage themselves and give solutions to societal problems.
Borrowing from the thoughts of his mentor, the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere of Tanzania that: “Things don’t just happen, they are made to happen. It can be done; do your part,” Dr. Peter Wanyaga Muthoka, the university’s Chancellor, noted that MMUST is proactive in solving its challenges.
For example, the university has embraced public-private partnerships with various stakeholders in Kenya, the UK and Germany to solve that capitation issue.
Its partnership with Germany reaped dividends by enabling the institution to raise KSh 600 million.
Through the Kenya-UK Health alliance, the institution’s health infrastructure is being upgraded.
He also noted that by engaging well with Kakamega County, holding strategic conferences and seeking areas of convergence with donors, the university has raised its much-needed capital.
To solve the challenge of students dropping out of school, the Chancellor inaugurated the Chancellor’s Endowment Fund, which will assist needy students. He appealed to well-wishers to contribute towards the fund.
He also called on universities to align themselves to Agenda 2063, Africa’s development blueprint to achieve inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development over 50 years.
He said that MMUST will continue to maintain accountability, professionalism, equity, excellence, and innovativeness.
Giving his remarks, President Ruto noted that the world is facing a future filled with disruptions.
“This calls for learning, resilience and innovativeness,” he observed, urging universities to use their intellectual capacity and comparative advantage to solve immediate societal challenges.
He challenged MMUST to take the lead in laying strategies that will see the ailing Mumias Sugar Company resurrected.
He noted that Kakamega County has a lot of gold deposits.
Shanta Gold, a gold mining and exploration firm interested in Western Kenya and Tanzania, confirms that visible gold has been identified in 7 different intersections across 11 holes.
The gold is estimated to be worth KSh 164 Billion from the 1.31 million ounces of deposit approximated by the firm.
The Busia-Kakamega Gold Belt is estimated to have gold deposits worth at least KSh200 billion.
“MMUST must champion gold mining and refining,” he said.
Noting that the region has a lot of granite stones, he added that MMUST ought to champion the mining and processing of these stones to contribute towards development.
Granite is used to making construction materials like tiles, countertops, paving stones, curbing, stair treads, building veneer, and cemetery monuments.
The President urged the university to reimagine its existence with a view of reinventing itself, being innovative and contributing positively amongst continental and global universities.
He also pledged his support for the university, ordering the university’s 16 acres of land under contention with the Agriculture Ministry to be reverted to the university.
He also said that the national government would help complete and equip the County’s Teaching and Referral Hospital to accord MMUST Health Science students a place to practice medicine.
On the lack of hostels for students, a situation that has seen students live outside the university premises and sometimes rub shoulders with locals the wrong way, Dr. Ruto directed that the university should work with the government housing scheme to ensure that units to host 10,000 students are constructed on the university grounds.
Amongst the 3,802 students who obtained either a Degree, Diploma, or Certificate accreditation was the Prime CS Musalia Mudavadi.
Mudavadi received the honorary degree of Dr. of Humane Letters (Honoris Causea) Degree in Peace and Sustainable Development for, amongst other achievements, his effort in revamping the country’s financial sector in the 1990s, contribution towards liberalization of communication, contribution towards devolution and generally being the sober mind that has lowered political temperatures in the country.
Accepting the honor, Mudavadi called upon all Kenyans to keep peace and work towards sustainable prosperity.