The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Graduates Can Solve Society's Many Problems

As we celebrate 50 years of independence, it's time to assess our success as a country in university education. The fact that there are many challenges citizens face is a great opportunity for university graduates to apply the knowledge innovatively and creatively to solve them.

It has been said over and over again that Kenya is a country of enormous potential. Who will unlock this potential? The answer to this question lies in our human resources, especially the elites -- bachelor's, master's and PhD degree holders. The greatest asset that any nation has is its human capital and not minerals or accumulated capital. It is human resources who excavate minerals and accumulate capital. Converting this potential into economic power is what is needed for us to rise to greatness. Without this we will not see transformation that we desire and another 50 years from now we will still be talking of the same rhetoric of Kenya as a land of great potential.

As universities release graduates in various disciplines, we appeal to these young Kenyans to apply the knowledge that they have acquired during their training to solve the various challenges that are facing our communities. Fifty years after independence we are still witnessing the sons and daughters of this land starving and dying from preventable water borne diseases like typhoid and cholera. Our engineers and scientists need to address these challenges while our social scientists should be urging our people to embrace technology and new ways of doing things in this 21st century.

Kenya has the potential to rise up to the challenge. For example through the innovation of M-Pesa, you can access financial services through a mobile phone no matter where you are located in the country. M-Pesa has made life comfortable for most of us Kenyans who used to travel to queue in post offices or banks located in big urban centres in order to send or receive money. But now every small shopping centre in any village in the country has an M-Pesa agent who helps to conduct transactions. Many companies are flocking into our country to learn about the ICT revolution taking place in Kenya. This one innovation is an indication that major transformation in all the sectors in this country is within reach and it only requires a little bit of creativity from our graduates.

I wish to urge universities in Kenya to streamline their respective programmes and align them to the many challenges facing Kenyans. We need quality, innovative and results-oriented graduates who are not only relevant to the market but also entrepreneurs who see challenges facing Kenyans as an opportunity for creativity and innovation.

Research projects and theses should not only be assessed on their ability to add knowledge but also on their ability to solve the existing problems in our villages. Thorough research should be conducted on the various challenges facing the country to guide the students while choosing their respective topics of research. Again, a better way of disseminating research findings should be identified rather than the old format of journals that seem too scholarly and not within reach of the Kenyan masses.

Simeon Ting'aa is the communication and marketing manager at Egerton University.

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