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Kenya: Affirmative Action for Women on the Agenda at Higher Education Conference

Hellen Sambili

Kenya’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology will continue offering more opportunities to women in institutions of higher learning through affirmative action during admission, the Acting Minister Professor Hellen Sambili has said.

Prof Sambili who was speaking during the opening of an international conference on education for societal development at Kenyatta University said the objective of the policy is gender equality sensitization and a commitment to the promotion of women’s participation in higher education in Africa.

She said the Kenyan constitution makes provision for women to attain of higher education qualifications and to eventually represent at least 30% of all industry sectors.

The Minister said that education is “the key in provision of skills required to steer Kenya to a middle income and industrialized country with a high quality of life by 2030.” Professor Sambili explained that the ministry holds research in high esteem for its ability to afford new knowledge, the means of solving societal problems and providing relevance to education.

Professor Sambili announced that Government provision of research funds to the Ministry, which is administered by the National Council of Science and Technology, totalled over Sh 324 million in the last financial year.

However, higher education pundits say the amount is a drop in the ocean that cannot substantially fund one university in carrying out intensive research.

The minister challenged the congregation of over 120 scholars, educators, administrators, policy makers, teachers, postgraduate students and other stakeholders in education to participate in promoting readership in Africa. She asked them to collect, classify and share knowledge on higher education and research in Africa since, “the success of the continent rests in the ability of Africans to do things for themselves”.

The three day conference is organized jointly by Kenyatta University and the Syracuse University under the auspices of the Africa – US Higher Education Initiative. It is on this note that Professor Sambili said the Ministry firmly believes “that collaborative partnerships between and among universities is crucial for the promotion and sustainability of academic excellence.”

“The Ministry of Higher Education encouraged all local universities to forge linkages with one another and with similar initiatives all over the world in order to improve the quality of programmes and enhance the chances of attaining world class university status,” she pointed out.

Kenyatta University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Olive Mugenda, said that she appreciates the effort by the ministry to effect a  paradigm shift in research and technological development strategy as outlined in Kenya’s Vision 2030.

“Education opens our minds and expand our horizons,” Prof Mugenda said, explaining that quality education provides learners with skills that prepare them mentally, socially and physically for employment.

“Education is therefore the best investment since educated human capital provides the services necessary for the development of any modern society,” she said articulating that productivity is increased by acquiring new skills and talents through education.

However, the VC said an educational system is strongly influenced by the resources made available to support the process of teaching and learning and the direct ways the resources are managed.

“It is obvious that schools without teachers, textbooks or learning materials will not be able to do an effective job,” she said, adding that “in that sense, resources are important for education quality.”

Additionally said she: “Without provision of quality education and learning, especially without the use of new technologies in education, developing countries will continues to experience poor educational achievement which is detrimental, not only to individuals learners, but also to communities and entire nations.”

Further she said as a university they are charged with the responsibility of producing teachers with current trends in education, knowledge, skills, attitudes and experiences required for effective teaching and learning in a dynamic society.

About Robert Okemwa Onsare

Robert Okemwa Onsare
Robert Onsare is pursuing Electronics Technology at the University of Eastern Africa, Baraton. He is a Cluster Strategy trained facilitator by Kenya's National Economic and Social Council (NESC). Mr Onsare has been an incubation student at the University of Nairobi, School of Engineering, FabLab, a venture project of the university and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is a member of the African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS) and a published poet. Mr Onsare is based in Kenya.

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