VICE CHANCELLOR PROF.KIAMA GITAHI’S SPEECH DURING THE 66TH GRADUATION CEREMONY HELD ON 17TH DECEMBER 2021 AT THE GREAT COURT AT 8.00AM.
- Dr. Sarah Ruto , CAS Education representing the Cabinet Secretary.
- Dr. Vijoo Rattansi, The Chancellor of the University of Nairobi,
- Eng. Karuiki Muchemi, member of the University Council and other council Members,
- Hon. Beatrice Adagala, MP Vihiga County.
- Prof. PLO Lumumba, Secretary General of the University of Nairobi Alumni,
- Vice Chancellors from sister Universities,
- Alexander Muteshi, Director General, Immigration Services,
- Ms. Sharon Dimanche, Chief of Mission, IOM,
- Excellencies High Commissioners and Ambassadors
- Graduands, Families and Friends
Distinguished, Ladies and gentlemen,
I welcome you to this 66th graduation of the University of Nairobi.
Madam Chancellor, as we gather here today we acknowledge the great work that has been done by the graduands, the faculty that taught them and their guardians and those who give them scholarships to study including the Government of Kenya. We have come to celebrate the fruits of this great work and usher these graduands to the world of work having acquired the necessary knowledge, skills and behaviour that will give them a competitive advantage as they participate in nation-building and serve the community with honour.
Madam chancellor, the class of 2021 comprises 10672 students. 6467 for the 66th Graduation and 4205 for the 65th graduation which took place in September. Congratulations to Class of 2021!.
Even as you exit, we expect you to stay connected to the university, your alma matter (your nurturing mother) and to continue to espouse the values of the University wherever you will be.
Learning at the university of Nairobi is such a great experience. You learn with the best and also learn from the best scholars as you interact with the industry. It truly accords you the opportunity for self –discovery, getting challenged and getting the best out of yourself.
I want thank the Chancellor, Dr. Vijoo Rattansi, for being the strong pillar of the University of Nairobi. Without her unwavering support, the University of Nairobi would not be where it is today. She has ensured that we remain focused on our mission. I thank you Madam Chancellor for this and the entire Rattansi Education Trust for giving financial support to 250 needy students from the University of Nairobi.
I also want to appreciate Prof. Julia Ojiambo led the council for spearheading transformative reforms that have put the university on a path to recovery, on a trajectory for a sustainable, vibrant, and relevant University. The council has served us with honour and given us distinguished and dedicated service.
Madam Chancellor, Speaking at the first graduation ceremony of the University of Nairobi in this great court on Thursday, 10th December 1970 at 3.00 pm, The founding President of the Republic of Kenya, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta said, ‘ To those who are graduating from this University, I would say this; never forget the opportunity that has been created by your fellow citizens. Practice the act of modesty and recognize your limitations. Exert all your efforts to help your country and your people and let your work bring honour to this University’. I Echo this same massage today
Madam Chancellor, The University has continued to make great strides due to the support from its stakeholders. The support from the Alumni, the support from students, the support from teaching and non-teaching staff, the support from the government and collaborators. The support has given us courage, hope, and strength to overcome the challenges that continue to confront us.
Madam Chancellor, As we celebrate this occasion of the 66th graduation ceremony for 6,647 graduands, it is also important to reflect on the achievements that we have made since the time we embarked on the transformation journey.
Allow me to touch on a few milestones that we have accomplished in the last two years:
On the Finances- through financial discipline and prudent management of the finances, the University has managed to achieve the critical balance between revenue and expenditure. We have eliminated wastages, sealed loopholes for leakages, eliminated all cash transactions in the University and put all our transactions online for enhanced efficiency, effectiveness and traceability of our transactions.
I am proud to report that because of these measures among others the University has this Calendar year achieved 100 percent compliance on remittance of statutory deductions including remittances to SACCOs, NHIF, NSSF, KRA, Pension funds and creditors whenever they fall due. This has been done in the context of people reforms.
We want the University staff and by extension the University brand to be trusted.
We want to ensure that our employees receive their pension promptly as soon as they retire.
We do not want our staffs to be on ‘’Fuliza ‘’ or on CRB register!
We do not want the University of Nairobi employees to be denied tax compliance certificates by KRA.
We do not want to be cited among the list of ailing institutions.
We have capacity. We shall surely rise. We must rise! We Continue to request government to support as to clear the accumulated arrears as we continue to address the current
Madam Chancellor, We have enhanced our revenue collection. This year alone, we have attracted research grants worth 6.2 billions to finance projects that are spread over a number of years in accordance with the various collaborative agreements.
Fees collection has also gone up from Kenya shillings 1.581 billion to Kenya shillings 2.350 billion in the half year.
Madam Chancellor, in addition to these measures we have eliminated wastages and made savings. We have terminated leases for external teaching spaces that used to consume annual rent of about Kenya shillings 30 million. These external spaces had an accumulated debt of Ksh.57 million which we have since settled.
We have frozen hiring of new employees except on critical areas to contain our the wage bill.
Further, we have also ceased re-hiring of those who have retired. Overall we have progressively reduced our staff compliment through natural attrition and we expect this trend to continue until we have a number of staff that we can comfortably pay.
Madam Chancellor, On curricular delivery- the University reduced its academic programs from 526 to 374 and reorganized them into 11 faculties where staff have been deployed to support those programs. This will bring synergy in curriculum delivery, optimize staff management and workload rationalization. We have also suspended most of diploma programs and only retained 12 flagship programs where we have competitive advantage
Furthermore, We have reviewed curricular of 104 programs in the last one year in order to address the changing needs and demand for training..
Madam Chancellor, in order to comply with the law, eliminate redundancies, enhance efficiency and effectiveness in carrying out university Business, we have rationalized the number of administrative units and optimized our human resources and finances resulting in reduced expenditures
Deans of faculties are now more empowered with human and financial resources to make critical decisions within the shortest turnaround time.
Madam Chancellor, Your visitation report indicated that data deficiency is impeding the performance of the university. Consequently, we have initiated a number of targeted initiatives to deal with the issue of data. We recently completed cleaning of the students progression records. We have cleaned student data and records. We can now plan and budget accurately for our 50,000 students instead of the initial number of 84,000 that was not verified. The 50,000 students comprise of both government sponsored and self sponsored students enrolled in undergraduate and postgraduate programs.
The University of Nairobi is increasingly becoming a university of choice for postgraduate studies and we want to continue to focus our energy in creating a niche in postgraduate studies.
Madam Chancellor, in order to strengthen data management and to institutionalize the use of data in making decisions, we have refurbished our Education data centre. Earlier this week, I commissioned the refurbished University Education Data Centre (EDC). The EDC will act as the nerve centre in which all business processes will be anchored including teaching, learning, procurement, human resources, maintenance of facilities and financial management.
On people reforms- we have continued to engage staff and students to find effective ways of addressing their issues and grievances in a caring and compassionate manner. Through consultations with the staff unions, we were able to finalize the implementation of CBA 2017-2021 by placing all staff in their correct notches.
Furthermore Madam Chancellor, 177 students who had been previously been expelled from the University of Nairobi have been pardoned. I am glad to note that 11 of those who have been pardoned have since completed their studies and graduated and gone to serve the country and help their families.
The University has also created an environment for nurturing abundant talents. A platform for student talents to flourish. This calendar year alone we have held two talent days in March and December 2021. The University of Nairobi travelling theatre has been resuscitated and is staging shows to entertain the Nairobi Community.
Globally, one of our students Ferdinand Omanyala broke the 100m national record .He became the fastest man in Africa and the 8th fastest man in the planet during the World Athletics meet in Kasarani in 2021. I want to thank the National Police Service for coming on board to give Ferdinand Omanyala appropriate support to excel in his athletics career.
The university has created a culture and ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship.
This year alone the university registered 7patents. I salute them and urge many students and staff to take advantage of the support provided by the research division to innovate and invent new products. The university has cumulatively registered 89 patents since it was established and I believe we can do better in the coming years. Innovation and enterprise is the next frontier of growth for the University.
Being a successful public performer comes with a tremendous social responsibility.
The university of Nairobi brand will continue to focus on the welfare our society in the process of discharging its mandate. In this respect, I want to appreciate the important role played by the Centre for Epidemiological modeling and Analysis (CEMA) for providing government and other stakeholders with advisories for guided responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. The centre has become a valuable national resource where experts from diverse disciplines conduct rapid analysis of infectious diseases and pandemics. Madam Chancellor, I also want to congratulate the university Health Services staff for working with the government on a community outreach program that have seen over 17,000 members of the public get their covid-19 vaccinations from the University Heath Unit. Recently Madam Chancellor we also organized and hosted several important meetings in the University such as the The Global Climate Action on the State of acceleration of Adaptation that was inaugurated by President Uhuru Kenyatta, The national Miraa Conference by the Governor of Meru and the Human Rights Day with the theme All human all Equal among others. University of Nairobi will continue to be the venue of choice for exchanging ideas to make the globe a better place for the current and future generations.
Universities are about collaborations. Through collaborations and networks the University of Nairobi has been able to attract resources for advancing its research agenda and for development of infrastructure. I want to particularly single out the financing of Science and Engineering Complex project. This project that is expected to transform the teaching and learning of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in this country is going to cost Kenya shillings 4.6 billion. I want thank the National Treasury for signing the financing agreement with our partners. We value and appreciate all our partners.
Once again , my hearty congratulations to the graduands and their families. I wish you a merry Christmas and a prosperous new year.
Thank you and God bless you.
PROF. STEPHEN KIAMA GITAHI