By EVANS ONGWAE
Mount Kenya University (MKU) graduated its 29 pioneer medical students on 6 August against a backdrop of several other achievements. Besides graduating 6,556 students, the university has also registered several milestones in research and innovation, and in its community outreach drive.
The 29 doctors and a host of other health personnel have graduated when the country is battling the Covid-19 pandemic and other health challenges. They are thus a notable addition to the country’s pool of health personnel.
The graduation of this cohort that joined the university in 2014 opens a pipeline that will release a regular stream of doctors. MKU has over the years graduated other health personnel from its College of Health Sciences.
MKU Vice-Chancellor Prof Deogratius JAGANYI says the university is busy training not just Kenyans, but also people from other parts of the world.
“Students from all over the world are welcome to MKU,” he says, explaining that the university’s e-learning capability enables masses to conveniently access affordable higher education.
The drive to expand access to higher education to all segments of the population has earned MKU global recognition. Last month, the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) recognized the university as the global hub for Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10 on reduced inequalities, beginning this year and up to 2024.
Prof JAGANYI says students thrive at MKU and some of them excel in innovation and entrepreneurship even before they graduate.
The VC cites two examples.
One is of two students, Chris Arunga and Sylvia Kang’ethe, won Ksh3.6 million and Ksh0.9 million in a Kenya Youth Employment Opportunities Programme (KYEOP), respectively. The two are set to establish enterprises after receiving their grants.
The other is of four information and communication technology (ICT) students. Billy Okeyo, Daniel Dennis, Sandra Kuria and Catherine Ratemo. ‘Eyero’, the mobile app they developed for rapidly and cheaply detecting cataracts early is among the Top 50 shortlisted in the Google’s Developer Student Club’s Solution Challenge 2021.
MKU has established a centre to provide psychosocial support to its students and other youth. The centre, located at the university’s main campus in Thika, is headed by Dr Jane Nyutu, the MKU co-founder.
Prof JAGANYI reports that MKU has completed its well-equipped, 2,000-capacity convention centre that will serve students and the rest of the country. Other than supporting learning activities, the centre will be used to host meetings, seminars, conferences and exhibitions. This is in line with the university’s drive to diversify its revenue streams to support its core business of teaching, research and community outreach.
Additionally, MKU has established an Innovation and Incubation under the African Higher Education Leadership in Advancing Inclusive Innovation for Development (AHEAD) Project.
Also, a joint project between MKU and μ-Data Analytics Institute (MUDAI) is set to establish a science and innovation laboratory at the University’s Nairobi Campus.
Prof JAGANYI says MKU has also established a Centre for Professional Development (CPD). This is to promote continuous learning.
The MKU VC thanks DAAD for the In-Country/In-Region Scholarship programme 2021. DAAD awarded MKU 26 postgraduate scholarships for the September 2021 intake.
MKU has also secured the International Junior Nurse Fellowship by the United Kingdom’s Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust (BDCFT). Senior nursing students at MKU will be competitively selected to join the 12-month virtual training.
The university’s funded research projects have a total value of over Ksh1 billion. This is among the highest value of grants in private universities in the region. These grants support research that impacts society. The target is to increase research grants to Ksh2 billion in the next one year, says the VC.
Prof JAGANYI says MKU received six research grants this year alone, bringing the total of ongoing funded projects to 48. The six grants are from the European Union through the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP); African Academy of Sciences; World Health Organisation; Global Challenges Research Fund through the Newton Prize; and Open Philanthropy, USA.
Also, a consortium led by MKU research scientist, Dr Jesse Gitaka, is set to supply 200,000 rapid Covid-19 testing kits to health facilities in Kiambu and Nairobi. The kits are a donation from the World Health Organisation (WHO) after the MKU-led consortium won a grant from the global health governing body.
The MKU fraternity – students’ clubs, faculty, and the university management – has been involved in various community support activities. This included environmental conservation through tree planting at different places, care for persons enabled differently (also known as Persons Living with Disabilities), the continued educational support by the School of Education to the Naivasha Maximum Prison inmate-teachers among other outreach activities.