SPEECH BY PROF. HENRY K. KIPLANGAT, THE VICE-CHANCELLOR, KABARAK UNIVERSITY, DURING THE 16TH GRADUATION CEREMONY 18TH DECEMBER, 2020

Hon. Senator Dr. Gideon Moi, the Chancellor of Kabarak University;
Hon. Raymond Moi, the Chairman of Kabarak University Board of Trustees;
The University Board of Trustees;
Dr. John Kibosia, Chairman of Kabarak University Governing Council;
The University Governing Council;
The University Management Board;
The University Senate;
Academic, Administrative and Support Staff, Kabarak University;
The Alumni of Kabarak University;
The Graduating Class of 2020;
Distinguished Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen;

Good morning.

It is with great pleasure and honor that I welcome you to the Sixteenth Graduation Ceremony of Kabarak University. I sincerely, thank you for honoring us with your presence in this virtual ceremony. Under normal circumstances, our campus would be teeming today with thousands of guests witnessing the 16th Graduation Ceremony. Despite the limitations and the new normal imposed on us by the pandemic, you have found time to honor us with your presence through the various channels of communication. I sincerely appreciate each of you for giving your precious time to Kabarak University.

Today we are here to graduate and celebrate 704 candidates who have successfully completed their studies in various academic programs offered in this University. Among the master’s degree programs, we are graduating our first pioneer student in Master in Music Education. This is a fulfillment of one of the dreams the Founder of this University, H.E. Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi, had for music to flourish among the academic programs and ministries on offer in this University.

Effects of COVID-19

Hon. Chancellor Sir, ladies and gentlemen, to say that 2020 was a bad year would be an understatement. Early in the jinxed year, on February 4, 2020, we woke up to the sad news that our Founding Chancellor, H.E. Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi, CGH, the Second President of the Republic of
Kenya and Commander-in-Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces, 19782002, had rested. Before we fully came to terms with Mzee’s departure, the
Ministry of Health reported the first COVID-19 case in Kenya on March 12, 2020. Following this report, His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta made a directive on March 15, 2020 to close all educational institutions as a containment measure for COVID-19. In compliance to the President’s directive, the University suspended all face-to-face learning and released students to return to their homes on March 17, 2020.

Hon. Chancellor Sir, ladies and gentlemen, as the University community, we have felt the adverse effects of the pandemic. One of the effects is the drop in our student enrollment. At this time last year, we had 8,019 students enrolled. This September Semester 2020, we were expecting a total of 10,220 who were already our bona fide students. Due to the pandemicrelated reasons, our enrollment today has dropped by 27% to 7,480 students. This means 2,740 of our students deferred their studies due to various reasons, mainly financial constraints or lack of resources to engage in blended e-learning classes.
Another adverse effect of the pandemic is evident in the decrease of the number of our graduation candidates this year. Last year we graduated 922 candidates. This year we are graduating 704 candidates, a decrease of 24% compared to last year. Had it not been for the pandemic, the number of candidates graduating this year would have exceeded those of last year.

Surmounting COVID-19 Pandemic

Hon. Chancellor Sir, ladies and gentlemen, the pandemic has had a severe impact on learning institutions globally. Luckily for Kabarak University, and more importantly due to the foresight and generous support from our Founding Chancellor, H.E. Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi, the University had in 2014 established and equipped Kabarak University Online Centre and appointed the Director to coordinate e-learning activities. When we released our students to go home due to the pandemic, we were well positioned to seamlessly switch from face-to-face learning to blended e-learning mode, much to the delight of our students, parents, and all stakeholders.

Hon. Chancellor Sir, ladies and gentlemen, to make the long story short, today I am proud to stand tall and to announce to all our stakeholders and members of the public that although the pandemic had caused us to close the physical campus for a few months, the University continued to successfully operate online and to meet its core mandate. On this note, I would like to take this opportunity to profusely thank the academic and the administrative staff for their dedication, agility, flexibility and professionalism which has made our blended e-learning a huge success. In the same vein, I would like to express my deeply felt gratitude to all our students who through thick and thin have demonstrated resilience and embraced digital technologies to complete January, May, and September semesters through the blended e-learning mode.

Due to the remarkable effort of our staff and students to mount and pursue our programs through the blended e-learning mode, we have been able to minimize the disruption in our academic calendar. Furthermore, the implementation of blended e-learning has ensured that the majority of our final year students graduate on time. In addition, e-learning has kept the University afloat despite the harsh global economic realities. Finally, it has positively contributed to our national economy by minimizing the need for the University to lay off staff. As a matter of fact, all our front line soldiers – the academic staff members – have and continue to receive 100% of their salaries – as if the pandemic does not exist. We do not take any credit for this success. Instead, our praise goes to the Lord. Like the Psalmist in Psalm 107:1, we “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

Forward Ever

Hon. Chancellor Sir, ladies and gentlemen, with God on our side, we are marching to the year 2021 with confidence. Despite the pandemic, we are opening the University for face-to-face learning on January 4, 2021. Time would not permit me to give the details of all the containment measures we have put in place. To mention just a few, the University has prepared hostel rooms that will accommodate a maximum of two (2) students per room. The University is well served with adequate piped water. We have sufficient supply of quality liquid soap and hand sanitizers. Hand washing and sanitation stations are well spread across the campus. We have spacious classrooms, lecture theatres, library, laboratories, and dining facilities compliant with 1.5 metre physical distance rule. The University is strictly enforcing the wearing of face masks by all persons on campus at all times. Thermo guns are in use at strategic points. The University Medical Centre is well equipped to handle all outpatient cases. Our Medical Centre Annex is ready as a temporary isolation facility.

Research

Hon. Chancellor Sir, ladies and gentlemen: Research, innovation and outreach are critical core activities in the Mission of the University. In keeping with our Mission, the University this year despite the pandemic successfully hosted the 10th International Research Conference through the virtual platform. True to its international target, this year’s conference attracted delegates from seven countries, namely Kenya, Pakistan, Uganda, Zambia, South Africa, Nigeria and USA.

As expected, the 10th International Conference attracted eminent scholars and industry leaders as keynote speakers. They included Mr. James Githii Mburu (Commissioner General, Kenya Revenue Authority); Dr. Kipkirui Langat (Director General/CEO, Technical and Vocational Education and Training Authority); Prof. Charles Ochieng Ong’ondo (Director General/CEO, Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development); Prof. Quadsia Tariq (HOD Psychology, University of Karachi, Pakistan). Others were Dr. Evelyne Mushira (Deputy Director, Permanent Presidential Music Commission); Prof. Emily Akuno (President, International Society of Music Educators); Prof. Elizabeth Bukusi (Chief Research Officer, Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI); Dr. Musa Mulongo (Senior Scientist, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI); Dr. Omololu Akin-Ojo (Director, East Africa Institute of Fundamental Research, Rwanda); Dr. John Oredo (President, Association for Information Systems Eastern Africa); Dr. Emmanuel Ugirashebuja (President of the East African Court of Justice); and Hon. Justice Hannington Amol (Chief Executive Officer of the East Africa Law Society).

During the Conference, our School of Law launched a new journal, namely The East African Community Law Journal Vol. 1. This is the second journal from the School of Law, the first being The Journal of Law and Ethics. Volume 5 of the latter was also launched during the Conference. Both are peer-reviewed publications that cover diverse topics in the legal field of relevance to Africa.

As part of the Conference this year, the School of Law hosted an inaugural moot court competition, namely the East African Community Moot Court Competition. During the competition, eleven (11) teams from seven (7) universities from Kenya and Uganda dialogued and assessed the progress made by the Community over the last 20 years after its re-establishment in July 2000.The University owes a debt of gratitude to East African Law Society for partnering with us in the conference.

Hon. Chancellor Sir, ladies and gentlemen, another significant achievement in research this year is the KES 18,566,000 grant for research the University received from the National Research Fund. The Principal Investigator Dr. Moses Thiga, a Senior Lecturer in the School of Science, Engineering and Technology, is leading a team of researchers including Dr. Pamela Kimeto, the Dean of School of Medicine and Health Sciences. The focus of this research is on eHealth for Universal Maternal Health Coverage.

Outreach and Engagement with the Community

Hon. Chancellor Sir, ladies and gentlemen, we do not want to be seen as an ivory tower university. For this reason, the University is actively pursuing outreach and community engagement – both at the grassroots and national levels. Today I am proud to report that a number of our fulltime staff members are serving the nation in various board appointments. In this regard, I would like to acknowledge the contributions the following members of the University are making at the national level:

  • Prof. Mellitus Wanyama, Chairman, Music Art Curriculum Development, Technical and Vocational Education and Training Authority. Prof. Wanyama is also a resource person at Kenya National Qualifications Authority.
  • Prof. Fredrick Ngala, Board Member, Governing Council of Kenya Cultural Centre and Kenya National Theatre. Prof. Ngala is also Member of the Academic Committee, Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development.
  • Dr. Titus Suge, Board Member, Training and Technical Committee, Pharmacy and Poisons Board.
  • Dr. Sellah Kebenei, Board Member, Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority.
  • Dr Geoffrey Kamau, Board Member, National Water Harvesting and Storage Authority.
  • Mr. Willy Chepkuto, Council Secretary, National Executive Council (NEC), Epidemiology and Biostatistics Society of Kenya.
  • Mr Ezra Kipchirchir Ronoh, Board Member, Water Services Regulatory Board.


Collaborations and Partnerships

Hon. Chancellor Sir, ladies and gentlemen, the benefits from the University and industry partnership cannot be gainsaid. This year, we have continued to maintain strategic relationships with our partners. For instance, today we are graduating our second student cohort in the Master of Medicine in Family Medicine program. For this success, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to our international partners. We have received tremendous support from MedSend - USA; Dr. Mark Towriss Bursary- UK; Institute of Family Medicine (INFAMED); MicroResearch Canada; and various mission organizations, specifically AIM, SIM, WGM, Pioneers and Samaritan’s Purse. Without financial assistance from these committed partners, the needed support for resident tuition fees and stipends would not have been possible.

Hon. Chancellor Sir, ladies and gentlemen, the University is also receiving support from various county governments for our Master of Medicine in Family Medicine program. The County Government of Bomet has provided study leave and support to one of the residents graduating today. Fourteen (14) of our continuing residents are pursuing this program with support from the county governments of Elgeyo Marakwet, Kericho, Kiambu, Nyamira, Kisii, Machakos, Nakuru, Narok, Tana River, Tharaka Nithi, and Trans Nzoia.
We owe a profound debt of gratitude to these county governments.

Hon. Chancellor Sir, ladies and gentlemen, the strategic collaboration between the University and the University of Cape Town, South Africa, is being successfully actualized. Through this collaboration, we received a subgrant from Andrew W. Mellon Foundation through the University of Cape Town. We are using the grant to fund research for one of our faculty member and to provide full scholarship to two students pursuing master’s degree in music in the School of Music and Performing Arts, Kabarak University. The two beneficiaries of the scholarship have been competitively selected and have commenced their studies in the University this semester.

Hon. Chancellor Sir, ladies and gentlemen, we have this year established additional formal partnership with various players in the industry. These include Nakuru County Level 5 Hospital, Machakos County Department of Health and Emergency Services, and MP Shah Hospital. These health facilities, in addition to the various mission hospitals, have opened their doors for clinical placement of our students in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, and the School of Pharmacy.

For our students studying business and related areas, besides our ongoing collaboration with KCB Bank, we have formalized partnerships with Nairobi Securities Exchange PLC and Capital Markets Authority to provide training and internship for our students. Furthermore, we have recently signed a Collaborative Agreement between Kabarak University and University of Nairobi to provide an avenue for the two institutions to jointly conduct research in the health information systems strengthening agenda in Kenya.

Expansion and Upgrade of Facilities

Hon. Chancellor Sir, ladies and gentlemen, this year, the University embarked on a major project to construct an ultra-modern three-floor Library Complex in our Nakuru Town Campus. Construction of the building commenced on February 8, 2020. The completion date is projected to be early 2021. The second and third floors of the building will house the Campus Library with a seating capacity for one thousand people under normal conditions. The Complex will also provide space for nine lecture rooms, six offices, a boardroom, and examination processing room. The building will cater for the needed services and improve the quality standards of our academic programs.

Another notable development in our campus this year is the Mega Dome Tent acquired by the University. The Ground Breaking Ceremony for the construction of the floor for the Dome Tent took place on July 20, 2020. The Dome Tent, with a seating capacity for 6,000 people, has been pitched and is providing the much needed space for large gatherings.

To revamp our sports facilities, the University has completed the construction of a nice convenience facility in the sports grounds to provide changing rooms and bathrooms during games.

Sports Engagements

Hon. Chancellor Sir, ladies and gentlemen, in line with the Competency Based Curriculum we have embraced as a country for our education system, the University puts emphasis in sports as an integral part of our co-curricular activities. This year, I am proud to report that six (6) of our students have competed and won gold medals in the President’s Award-Kenya. The Award was launched by the Founding Father of the nation, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, in 1966. This year’s Gold Award will be conferred virtually today – December 18, 2020 – by H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta, at State House Nairobi. The six winners from Kabarak University are Victor Kisia Cheloti, Pim Hugh Tirop, Joy Phoebe Onyando, Tony Kiprono, Samira Valji, and Eileen Wanjiru. We are proud of our students for their positive spirit and for being good ambassadors of the University.

Gratitude

Hon. Chancellor Sir, ladies and gentlemen, I wish to express my sincere and profound gratitude to our Founding Chancellor, H.E. President Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi, for laying a strong foundation upon which the University continues to thrive on. Our Honorable Chancellor, the University Board of Trustees, and the Governing Council, the milestones we have realized this year would not have been possible without the unwavering support and focused leadership we have received from you.

I am also grateful to the Government and parents who have supported and continuing their support by placing the students in this University. We humbly accept the honor you have bestowed upon us, and we pledge to live up to your expectations in maintaining highest quality standards.

Congratulations to the Graduating Class

To our graduating class, words are not enough to express my appreciation. You have made us proud with your unrelenting pursuit of high standard of Biblical Christian values. You have demonstrated discipline and commitment to excellence in your academic pursuit. I am proud of you and convey to you my warmest congratulations and best wishes from the bottom of my heart. God bless you our graduates; God bless you our parents, guardians, and sponsors. God bless Kabarak University.

Honorable Chancellor Sir, ladies and gentlemen, it is now my humble privilege and pleasure to welcome Dr. John Kibosia, the Chairman of the University Council, to make his remarks and welcome Hon. Senator Dr. Gideon Moi, the Chancellor of Kabarak University.

Prof. Henry Kiptiony Kiplangat VICE CHANCELLOR December 18, 2020

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