Speech delivered by Prof. Henry Kiptiony Kiplangat, Vice-Chancellor, Kabarak University, During the First-Year Students Orientation on Tuesday 19Th January 2021.

  • Deputy Vice-Chancellor (A&F), Prof. Ronald Chepkilot,
  • Deputy Vice-Chancellor (A&R), Prof. John Ochola,
  • Provost, Rev. Prof. Jacob Kibor,
  • Dean of Students, Dr. Moses Alela,
  • University Librarian, Mrs. Patricia Chebet,
  • Finance Manager, Mr. Gideon Langat,
  • Academic Deans and Directors,
  • Heads of Departments,
  • Student Leaders,
  • Members of Staff,
  • Freshmen,

I greet you all in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are delighted to welcome you as the newest members of the Kabarak family and look forward to working with each of you, to grow all round. Coming from different counties within our beloved country you bring to the University a rich diversity of talents and ideas.

I hope you have already adapted to the environment, made new friends and know your way around here well. You have started your discovery and learning experience; the four or five years you will be here will be filled with opportunities for growth in all spheres of your lives.

This will be the best time in your life to learn great things and ask critical questions. The University has established the necessary facilities to facilitate your personal development and comfort.

Also, the University has recruited the best members of staff who are dedicated to the realization of the University’s mission of providing quality education, research and service to humanity and are eager to impart specialized knowledge; as well as equip you with the necessary skills and technical know-how to help you lead a fruitful life both in and out of campus.

Historical Background

Kabarak University is a Private Christian University in Kenya mandated to provide quality, world class and holistic higher education and training.

Established in October 2002 by the second President of Kenya (19782002), His Excellency Daniel Toroitich arap Moi, who was also the Chancellor.

A result of the Founder’s visionary idea of setting up a Christian Liberal Arts, Science and Technology University that would meet the demand for higher education in Kenya and the region in offering quality education based on biblical moral principles.

It is established on a 600-acre farm and a town campus in Nakuru, conveniently close to the commercial center.

The campus, as you have seen for yourself, features state-of-the-art academic and recreational facilities set in a serene environment.

The University, which is a high-level educational institution where students study for degrees and conduct research, was granted a Letter of Interim Authority by the Government of Kenya through the Commission for Higher Education on 16 October 2000, therefore allowing the institution to award degrees. In November, 2005, The University held its first graduation ceremony where 61 students graduated with different degrees.

Since then the University has graduated over 7,933 students. On 16 May, 2008 the university was awarded the Charter by the Third President of the Republic of Kenya, His Excellency Mwai Kibaki, making it a fullyfledged accredited university.

In November 21, 2014, Kabarak University Online was officially opened by E the Second President of Kenya (1978-2002) H.E Daniel T. Arap Moi.

Kabarak University supports the efforts by the Government of Kenya in contributing to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the University ensures inclusive and equitable quality education and promotes lifelong learning opportunities for all (SDG No.4).

It is for this reason that our University strives to develop all round students who will subsequently form the essential manpower required to push forward towards the attainment of the vision 2030.

  • Kabarak University Motto: Education in Biblical Perspective - the manual that shows us how to operate.
  • Vision: To become a center of Academic Excellence founded on Biblical Christian values - handle that opens the door and charts the path to be followed.
  • Mission: To provide holistic quality education based on research, practical skills and Biblical Christian Values - the candle that lights our way each day on this inspiring journey.
  • Our core values: Integrity, excellence, professionalism, patriotism, being mindful of others, innovativeness and creativity - our labels for we become what we value.

Kabarak University is also a mission field where we proclaim with Jacob in Genesis 28: 16 - 17 that “Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it ... How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, this is the gateway to heaven.”

To complement this, we have our moral code from 1st Peter 3:15 urging us as members of Kabarak University family to purpose at all times and in all places to set apart in one’s heart Jesus Christ as Lord.

God assures us in Isaiah 29:11 that He knows the plans he has for us, plans for our prosperity, hope and a future.

However, let us also be aware of the enemy’s plans as the same Bible cautions us to be alert and sober because our enemy, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (Peter 5:8).

You can be devoured spiritually, socially, academically and physically. Remember that the wages of sin is death. Entertaining the enemy will never give you joy but misery in every area of your life. Look at the unfortunate recent killings.

I therefore urge you to take the spiritual services offered very seriously because your life depends on God.

Unless the Lord builds your house, unless the Lord watches over your city, you will build, you will labour in futility (Psalm 127:1).

Make use of the mid-week Chapel and Sunday Services, among others.

I would like to spend the remaining part of my speech on two very important aspects that will inform your stay here and shape you to fit into the 21st Century work place.

Let me begin by sharing with you what your employer will be interested in apart from your mastery of taught content.

I will then share with you nuggets on what you should do in order to experience graduation day with joy and be magnetic to the 21st century organization.

Malcolm X (1927-1965) once said that “Education is the passport to the future for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”

 

The 21st Century Skills

  • James Mworia, the CEO of Centum, a top company in Kenya, in an interview documented in an article entitled “What Employers Look for when Hiring” (The Standard Thursday, April 26, 2018, pp.45), revealed what the coveted companies are looking for in graduates.
  • He was quoted as follows: “Part of what we do to enrich each other in the job is assigning complex tasks and achieving them through team work.
  • This means that to get someone on board, they must prove their ability to work in a team.
  • One must also have self drive and such soft skills as communication, leadership and critical thinking... Importantly, we are keen on knowing if the graduates can learn and have the adaptability that comes with it.
  • We will be thrilled to have an engineering graduate who can work at the customer service desk and in accounting, just by observing others do it.”
  • However, he lamented that it was evident some learners did not equip themselves with self management, critical thinking skills and IT skills, which happen to be a requirement in the industry these days.
  • Dear students, in the years that you will spend in Kabarak University, understanding of the content taught will be of great advantage to your success.
  • Indeed, it is important for you to understand that no employer will give you a second look if your transcript will not be impressive.
  • Keep also in mind that it is a world of survival of the fittest; therefore, your academic fitness should be of paramount concern to you.
  • For example, one of the guidelines given by the Teachers Service Commission to guide the recruitment of new teachers is to give employment priority to First Class Degree holders.
  • In the Daily Nation of Friday, June 1st 2018 is an article captioned ‘It takes more than a degree” featured in My Network page 2. In this article, youths share their competitive edge strategies to securing employment in a flooded jobmarket sampled as follows:
  • Kizzie Shako, the only female police surgeon in the country says as a student, “I was resilient, passionate and inquisitive enough.
  • Follow what your heart desires, never let anyone dissuade you. Put in the work and be willing to learn.
  • Be prepared to fight for your dream knowing that nothing worthwhile comes easy. Always seize opportunities for growth” (p.2).
  • Victor Mwenda 22, was a final year student. He was a software and web developer.
  • To keep himself updated, Victor registered for a field related mentorship programme and was also on an ongoing Google Udacity programme to help him build a professional edge over his peers (p.5).
  • Sheila Waswa shares her experience as follows: “My school has very long holidays so I took advantage of this to begin to build work experience. I learnt some of the most basic skills such as research, summary skills, conducting interviews and analytical thinking.”
  • Sheila feels ready for the workplace and has even started her own PR and marketing company, Chasing Mavericks Limited where she is the CEO at 22 years and a Fourth Year Student.
  • Walt Disney, a great optimist, dreamer and visionary American entertainer once said, “All of our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”
  • Therefore, today I want to set two alternative learning outcomes for you that will be realized upon your entry into employment - to be what top employers want to see in a job seeker or to start your own company.
  • I am going to outline some of the values, apart from mastering the content taught, that each of you should strive to have or become.
  • The teaching and non teaching staff will walk with you in this journey that will come to an end when we see you conquer the job market as either an employee or an employer.
  • Apart from working as interns and pursuing professional courses as you study, the following tips will equip you to become a hot cake in the jobmarket.
  • The story begins in 2002 when, as part of the USA efforts to bring the power of technology to all aspects of teaching and learning, a joint public-private organization called the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) was formed to serve as “a catalyst to infuse 21st Century skills throughout primary and secondary schools by building collaborative partnerships among education, business, community and government leaders” (Trilling & Fadel, 2009). Let me share with you four of these 21st Century skills.

 

1. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills

  • First, develop a critical thinking culture.
  • In the 21st century work place, critical thinking and problem solving are required.
  • Critical thinking is essential for harmonious human
  • It is corner stone in the journey human kind is taking from beastly savagery to global sensitivity.
  • As long as people have purposes in mind and wish to judge how to accomplish them, as long as people wonder what is true and what is not, what to believe and what to reject, strong critical thinking is going to be necessary.
  • Considered as a form of thoughtful judgment or reflective decision-making, there is hardly a time or a place where it would not seem to be of potential value.
  • It is important to train in critical thinking because it helps you to engage in rational thinking, reasoning, developing knowledge, applying your intelligence and reflection.
  • Critical thinking and problem solving skills will help you acquire information and knowledge, stay focused, recognize different alternatives and be prepared to evaluate the alternatives, taking a position you can support with reasonable arguments, seeking precision in argumentation, proceeding analysis in a logical and orderly manner and listening well so as to be sensitive to other peoples’ positions.
  • Critical thinking will teach you metacognition (knowledge of your own thoughts and the factors that influence your thinking) which helps you to consciously ask questions about observations or ideas about personal thinking.
  • I want to encourage you students to look for gaps in whatever information you are given and to then seek ways in which these gaps can be filled.
  • You should be able to distinguish between straightforward observation and inference and between fact and fiction.
  • Probe for the assumptions that underlie what you are exposed to so that you can develop a fuller understanding of what it means and be able to draw inferences and conclusions from it by yourselves.
  • Learn to think deeply about relationships such as cause and effect and how you can be conscious of your own reasoning and test whether it is supportable with evidence or not, and whether it is generalisable or unique and specific.

Strategies that can be followed in learning critical thinking skills are as follows; 

 

  • Change your thinking from guessing to estimating,
  • from preferring to evaluating,
  • from grouping to classifying,
  • from believing to assuming,
  • from inferring to inferring logically,
  • from associating concepts to grasping principles,
  • from noting relationships to noting relationships among relationships,
  • from supposing to hypothesizing,
  • from offering opinions without reason to offering opinions with reasons,
  • and from making judgments without criteria to making judgments with criteria.
  • Critical thinking requires cognitive levels that fall within the higher-order levels of Bloom’s (1956) revised taxonomy, namely analyzing, evaluating and

Some other strategies include;

 

  • Keeping concentration and motivation high,
  • consciously identifying what you already know,
  • determining how performance will be evaluated,
  • estimating the time required to complete a task,
  • planning study time into your schedule and setting priorities,
  • making a check list of what needs to happen,
  • organizing materials,
  • taking necessary steps to learn by using strategies such as outlining, mnemonics, and diagrams,
  • reflecting on the learning process,
  • monitoring learning by questioning and selftesting,
  • providing your own feedback, training yourself to challenge the assumptions that underlie values and the belief systems of your culture, so that you learn how to examine old ideas in new ways;
  • exploring and imagining alternatives to old ways of thinking, and developing open-mindedness and willingness to explore alternative possibilities.
  • Examine data or a situation and engaging in inductive or deductive reasoning to gain a deep understanding of the issue.
  • Developing Mental Models in Systems Thinking is an approach well developed by Professor Peter M. Senge, senior lecturer at the

Massachussetts Institute of Technology in his book The Dance of Change:

The Challenges of Sustaining Momentum in Learning Organizations (1999).

  • It requires an analysis of how parts of a whole work together or interact among themselves so as to function as a cohesive whole. It also requires making rational judgments and decisions.
  • This teaches you to not only understand how to analyze but also how to evaluate available evidence, arguments given and claims made.
  • This way, you will learn how to look at the data from different lenses and then make connections between and among the bits observed.
  • From the analysis emerges interpretation of the data enabling you to make well informed, data based conclusions.
  • Thinking deeply and considering all possible alternatives so you can solve non-familiar problems in different ways.

Several areas in which you need to work on so as to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills include;

  • Open-mindedness,
  • observation,
  • being aware of gaps in information and consciously raising questions,
  • distinguishing between observation and inference, and between fact and fiction,
  • draw inferences from data,
  • look for underlying assumptions,
  • develop hypotheses and
  • test them, engage in inductive or deductive reasoning to derive what data really mean.

 

2. Communication Skills    

What do 21st Century communication skills involve?  

  • Communication skills have always been valued in the workplace and in public life. But in the 21st Century, these skills have been transformed and are even more important today.

 

Five sets of communication skills include:

 

  1. The ability to articulate thoughts and ideas effectively, both verbally and nonverbally;
  2. The ability to listen and make sense of what is being said; iii. The ability to utilize communication effectively;    The ability to utilize a wide range of media and related technologies; and

v.  The ability to communicate in different environments. 

  • The permeation of digital technologies in business and everyday lives in the global Digital Economy has created a new demand for communication skills.
  • In particular, there is a much greater need to be able to communicate in a way that enhances learning and working together.
  • This new way of working together does not necessarily require face-to-face interaction but relies on internet based messaging, using different software and Web tools that enable participants to create and share their ideas, views, work and products in virtual environments online.

 

In order to improve your communication skills, learn to do the following:

  • Firstly, learn to articulate thoughts and ideas using oral, written and nonverbal communication in different contexts.
  • Secondly, learn how to engage in active listening so as to interpret and understand the meaning within the communication, taking into consideration participants’ cultural backgrounds, values, attitudes and intentions.
  • Thirdly, learn how communication can be used for different purposes. For example, it could be used to inform clients, to instruct participants, to motivate learners or to persuade potential customers.
  • Fourthly, be exposed to a wide range of media technologies and learn how to use them.
  • Fifthly, know how to communicate in diverse environments, including the use of a variety of languages other than your own.

 

3. Collaboration Skills  

What do 21st Century collaboration skills involve?   

  • Collaboration is essentially the ability to work with others as a team that seeks to achieve a common goal. It is participatory, proactive, and communal. Fifty years ago, much work was accomplished by individuals working alone, but not today.
  • Much of all significant work is accomplished in teams, and in many cases, global teams.
  • It involves freely discussing ideas, respecting the ideas of others, giving and receiving critical and constructive feedback, maintaining up-to-date knowledge, selecting and maintaining a contact network and identifying one’s own limitations and seeking assistance when needed.
  • In the 21st Century learning and work contexts, collaboration has taken on new dimensions which require people to work effectively with others that they have never met, don’t know or will never meet face to face, but with whom they need to be able to cooperate on a common task or tasks.
  • In the new workplace, collaboration requires that participants be able to take actions, which, together with those of others they collaborate with in the Knowledge Age, lead to achievement of objectives that benefit all the collaborators.
  • To collaborate effectively in 21st century workplaces, learn to work respectfully with different teams, not only in their physical workspaces, but also in their online interactions.
  • Be flexible and willing to compromise so as to reach the goal that benefits all collaborating parties.
  • Take on responsibilities for joint work with others. Value the ideas and contributions of every member of the team.

Principles of collaboration are as follows:

  • In Positive Interdependence, the gains of a team member benefit all team members and that the team as a whole  succeeds only if every member contributes to the joint effort.  The team either sinks or swims together. 
  • In Individual Accountability, you are fully responsible for the contribution expected of you in the team effort.
  • In Equal Participation, team members contribute their personal best to the joint effort. 
  • In Group Processing, collaborating members have the opportunity to reflect on their task and to share feedback on   their progress. 
  • Simultaneous Interaction gives participants the opportunity to all be involved in the task, all-at-once, without standing by just watching other team members get on with the task at hand. 

 

4. Creativity and Innovation Skills   

What do 21st Century creativity and innovation skills involve?  

  • The Innovation and Business Industry Skills Council of Australia (IBSA, 2009) defines innovation as “consciously exploiting new ideas, or new uses of ideas, to add social or economic value”.
  • In the past, creativity and innovation were perceived as secondary to the forces that mobilize economic activity and industrial progress. However, the 21st Century Global Economy has an avid appetite for better processes, better products and new services, and “creativity and innovation are key drivers in the Global Economy.”
  • To cater for this demand requires that industries have a workforce that has the skills for creativity and innovation.
  • Many believe that our current Knowledge Age is quickly giving way to an Innovation Age.
  • The skills most prized for creativity and innovation include the ability to solve problems in new ways, to invent new technologies or to create new applications of technologies already in existence.
  • These are the skills that will shape the future.
  • The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind – creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers and meaning makers.
  • These people will reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys.
  • You, dear students, should take keen interest in these skills to enable you, upon graduation, to reap such rewards and to share in the envisaged joy.

 

How Can 21st Century creativity and innovation skills be acquired?  

  • Kabarak University has a quality learning environment that gives learners the opportunity to solve authentic, real-world problems and to be inquisitive with an open mind.
  • In such environments, learners are encouraged to utilize higher-order thinking skills that involve thinking outside the square, analyzing, evaluating, elaborating and creating.
  • You will be challenged to stretch your imagination so as to come up with new ideas using well-tested creative thinking strategies such as brainstorming, mind mapping, visual creativity, word association, SWOT analysis, and lateral thinking.
  • Such strategies serve to generate new ideas, to open up your mind to ideas you didn’t know, to encourage you to build networks and to share your own ideas and to seek feedback on these ideas in order to improve on them.
  • As creative and innovative thinkers, students learn that the process of coming up with something new involves many trials, errors and mistakes and even failure.
  • However, you will learn that occasional failure and mistakes are part of the creative and innovative processes rather than a discouragement to an adventurous spirit.
  • You learn to reflect on and to evaluate your experiences and to work with others to improve on those experiences, so as to come up with better or new ways of doing things. Sir Thomas Buxton (1786-1845) once said: “With ordinary talents and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.”
  • However, Song of Solomon 2:15 introduces an aspect of spoilers. “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom”, he says.
  • Right now, you are ready to move on, your vineyards are in bloom but what are these foxes?
  • My experience with students has taught me that laziness is a very dangerous fox. Dear freshmen, catch this fox early.
  • The consequences are vividly shown in Proverbs 24: 31- 34: “I passed by a lazy person's field, the vineyard belonging to a person without sense. I saw that it was all overgrown with thistles. The ground was covered with weeds, and its stone fence was torn down.
  • When I observed this, I took it to heart. I saw it and learned my lesson. ‘Just a little sleep, just a little slumber, just a little nap.’
  • Then your poverty will come like a drifter, and your need will come like a bandit (God’s Word @ Translation).

 

Five Minds that will Lead us into the Future

  • Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Prof. Howard Gardner, in his book 5 Minds for the Future (2007) helps us to know which skills will be required to succeed and offered us some insights into the minds of the people who he says, will lead us into the future.
  • In The five minds of the future, he shows how we each need to master the following “five minds” that the fast paced future will demand.
  1. The disciplined mind - to learn at least one profession, as well as the major thinking (science, math, history) etc, behind it.
  2. The synthesizing mind - to organize massive amounts of information and communicate effectively to others.
  3. The creative mind - the capacity to innovate, uncover, generate new ideas and clarify new problems, questions, and phenomena. This is the mind that seeks to become an employer rather than an employee.
  1. The respectful mind - this is the mind that has awareness of and appreciates other human beings and their contribution and understands and works with all persons. Shuns pride and respects nature and God’s creation.
  2. The Ethical Mind - this is the mind of the responsible person, who knows what is right and wrong and performs his duties well as a citizen. Without these “minds,” notes Howard, we risk being overwhelmed by information, unable to succeed in the workplace, and incapable of the judgement needed to thrive both personally and professionally.
  • Furthermore, to be a winner, the students’ handbook will be one of your close documents.
  • Take good care of your physical self, no drugs allowed or sexual immorality. Choose your friends as guided in Psalm 1:1 that cautions against the counsel of the wicked, standing in the path of sinners and seating on the seat of mockers or the scornful.
  • Observe examination regulations and keep your faith in God.
  • There will be moments of weakness but Isaiah 40:31 talks about the benefit of waiting upon the Lord. Your will soar up on wings like eagles, you will run and not be weary, you will walk and not faint.
  • Freshmen, be assured of the support of the Chancellor, the Trustees, the

Governing Council, my own support and that of the University Management Board, the Schools and every office in this great University that seeks excellence. 

  • You have come to the right place. Colin Powell asserts that “excellence is not exception; it is a prevailing attitude”.
  • Thus, from the onset you should abandon the myth that universities are places of living carelessly.
  • Instead, fold your sleeves and work hard and smart for excellence.
  • Bear in mind that excellence is not automatic even if you are in the right place but it requires an investment of your time, energy and resources. In short, it needs an investment of your life! Be like an eagle!
  • I end with the Priestly blessing in Numbers 6:24-26 (New King James Version) “The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”

 

Thank you 

 

                                              

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As members of Kabarak University family, we purpose at all times and in all places, to set apart in one’s heart, Jesus as Lord. (1 Peter 3:15)

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