Speech Delivered by Prof. Henry Kiptiony Kiplangat, Vice-Chancellor, Kabarak University, During the First-Year Students Orientation on Thursday 6th October, 2022

Deputy Vice Chancellor (A&F), Prof. Ronald Chepkilot,

Deputy Vice Chancellor (A&R), Prof. John Ochola,

Provost, Rev. Prof. Jacob Kibor,

University Registrar (A & F), Prof. Simon Kipchumba,

University Registrar (A & R), Dr. Antony Somba,

Ag. Dean of Students, Dr. Dorcas Githaiga,

University Librarian, Mrs. Patricia Chebet,

Finance Manager, Mr. Gideon Langat,

Academic Deans,

Directors,

Head of Departments,

Student Leaders,

Members of Staff,

Freshmen,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I greet you all in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I join other members of staff and students who have previously met you and made you feel at home in your University of choice. I pray that my contribution this afternoon will solidify your vision for a successful venture not only in the University but throughout your lives. We are really delighted to welcome you as the newest members of the Kabarak University family and look forward to working with each of the two thousand three hundred and eight (2308) of you. Psalm 115:14 says that “The LORD shall increase you more and more, you and your children.”  You are a testimony to the LORD’s command of a blessing to this institution, you are a blessing to us. Welcome to Kabarak University.

I realize that all the counties of our great nation are represented here which is wonderful because it brings to the University a rich diversity of talents and conceptions. The American Industrialist, Henry Ford, observed that “coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” Therefore, let us come, keep and work together for success.

I believe you have already adjusted to the environment; made new friends and already know your way around here well. You have started your learning experience already and I assure you that the four or five years you will be student will be filled with opportunities for academic, spiritual, social and physical growth to mention a few. This will be one amazing time that will form a huge part of what you are becoming, so enjoy and make good use of every precious moment.

The University has indeed put in place the necessary facilities to accelerate your personal and intellectual development. Being an ISO 9001:2015 certified University, we believe in continuous improvement in every aspect of our operations. In addition, the University has recruited the highly qualified 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. Kabarak University was established in October 2002 by the Second President of Kenya, His Excellency Daniel Toroitich arap Moi, who was also the Chancellor. This was as a result of his visionary idea of setting up a Christian Liberal Arts, Science and Technology University that would meet the demand for higher education in Kenya and offer quality education based on biblical moral principles.

It is established on a 600-acre farm and a city 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 means 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 2002, therefore allowing the institution to award degrees. In November, 2005, The University held its first graduation ceremony where more than 200 students graduated with different degrees.

Since then the university has graduated nine thousand, seven hundred and forty seven (9747) 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 fully-fledged accredited university. In November 21, 2014, Kabarak University Online was officially opened by H.E the Second President of Kenya H.E Daniel T. Arap Moi. Kabarak University Online offers online training for organizations and individuals in Africa and fully online degrees in some Schools.  Its beneficiaries are either working professionals or continuing students.

Kabarak University’s motto, Education in Biblical Perspective, is the manual that shows us how to operate while its vision, to become a center of Academic Excellence founded on Biblical Christian values, is the handle that opens the door and charts the path to be followed. The mission of Kabarak University, to provide holistic quality education based on research, practical skills and biblical Christian values, is the candle that lights our way each day on this inspiring journey. Our core values; integrity, professionalism, patriotism, innovativeness, and being mindful of others, are our labels for we become what we value.

 

Our Spiritual Stand

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. My prayer is that whatever activity you interact with here will point you to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, our LORD and Saviour.

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 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 and even mentally. Entertaining the enemy will never give you joy but misery in every area of your life. Remember that the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our LORD (Romans 6:23). 

I therefore urge you to take the spiritual services offered very seriously because your life as well as mine depend on God. Unless the Lord builds your house, unless the Lord watches over your city, you will build and you will labour in futility according to Psalm 127:1. Make use of the mid-week Chapel and Sunday Services, among other Christ centered activities under our Chaplaincy department.

I would like to spend the remaining part of my speech on very important aspects that will inform your stay here and shape you to fit well in 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 thereafter 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.” 

 

21st Century Skills

The current Knowledge Age (also known as the Computer Age, Digital Age, Silicon Age, or New Media Age) require that we learn new skills without which you will find it very hard to be employed because you will be declared ‘redundant on arrival!’ A phrase you hear or will hear very often is ‘21st century skills.’ Ever heard of that? Apparently, you need these skills to succeed in your life after graduation from this great University. I can hear you ask quietly, “you mean there has been an absence of skills in the previous century? You will get an answer as we progress in unpacking the 21st Century Skills.

It is essential that policy makers, across all nations, in particular higher education providers, have a firm understanding of the skills most in demand in the 21st Century Digital World. In Kabarak University, I have ensured that every facilitator has a grip on these 21st Century Skills and are able to transfer them to every learner because we are very intentional in preparing you for work and life. I invite you to journey with me along this road that is not as familiar but lined with interesting flowers of knowledge. The 21st Century Skills knowledge and expertise, which you will learn and which you must master to be well prepared for success in the Digital Economy are summarized as follows:

Traditional Core Skills e.g. reading, -riting and -rithmetic or basic literacy and numeracy;

Learning and Innovation Skills; e.g. critical thinking, problem solving and creativity;

Career and Life Skills; e.g. flexibility, adaptability, initiative, teamwork and leadership;

Digital Literacy Skills; e.g. technological proficiency, digital fluency, computing, media and information literacy.

 

These skills can only be acquired successfully, if we change the way we teach in the university, high school and primary schools. You are products of 8-4-4 Kenyan Curriculum which is being phased out because it does not give the learner opportunity to develop these skills effectively because the teacher does most of the talking and research while the students listen, write, read notes, memorize and reproduce at exam time.   We can therefore conclude that the approach to teaching in the system being phased out lack the following learning and innovations skills (popularly known as the 4Cs):

  1. Critical thinking and problem solving
  2. Communication
  3. Collaboration
  4. Creativity and innovation

I therefore urge you to embrace new methods of teaching that you will encounter in your classes at the university that will help you develop the skills listed here and many more because if we do not provide you with opportunities to develop 21st century skills and proficiencies, you will be misfits because there will be a disconnect between jobs being created and the skills that you have.

You will therefore find that your classes are not as teacher-centred as you are used to. Understand that it is for your good and you will thank these teachers when you find yourself standing head and shoulders above your peers at work because in the training you received, you were  allowed to be a critical thinker, a great communicator, a very essential team player because of wonderful collaboration skills, a very creative worker and great asset to the company because of your innovation skills. This kind of worker, I assure you, will surely either be sort after by well-paying companies or create a successful self-employment opportunity.

I would therefore like to assure you that our members of teaching staff have the knowledge on how to make this shift and expect learning to be characterized by the following facilitator-learner activities;

  • from teacher-directed to student-centred learning,
  • from direct teacher instruction to interactive exchange with and among students,
  • from teaching content knowledge to equipping students with the relevant skills,
  • from teaching content to problem solving processes,
  • from teaching basic to applied skills;
  • from teaching facts and principles to investigative questions and problematizing,
  • from mere theory to practice applying the relevant theories,
  • from working with a fixed or set curriculum to working on authentic real-life projects.
  • from classroom tied contexts to foot-loose global learning networks,
  • from textbook-based data to web-based sources,
  • from summative to formative assessment of students’ performance,
  • from learning at school to learning throughout life
  • from time-slotted schedules to completion of tasks on-demand,
  • From teaching that applies a one-size-fits-all approach to all students to one that provides personalized platforms for learners,
  • from competitive learning to collaborative learning

I would like you to appreciate that you are now a university student and there are higher demands that will be placed on you. I would like to briefly share with you how far you will go according to Bloom’s taxonomy which is a popular model used to show levels of learning complexity. The first two are important but cannot give you opportunity to sharpen the needed skills. Let’s have a look;

Bloom's Revised Taxonomy

  1. Remember

Definition: retrieve, recall, or recognize relevant knowledge from long-term memory

  1. Understand

Definition: demonstrate comprehension through one or more forms of explanation. Here, you are expected to: arrange, categorize, contrast, discuss, distinguish, explain, summarize as appropriate learning outcome verbs for this level.

  1. Apply

Definition: use information or a skill in a new situation.  Appropriate learning outcome verbs for this level include: apply, calculate, carry out, classify, complete, compute …

  1. Analyze

Definition: break material into its constituent parts and determine how the parts relate to one another and/or to an overall structure or purpose.  Appropriate learning outcome verbs for this level include: analyzearrange, break down, categorize …

  1. Evaluate

Definition: make judgments based on criteria and standards. Appropriate learning outcome verbs for this level include: appraise, argue, assess, compare, conclude, consider, contrast, criticize, critique, decide, discriminate, evaluate, grade, judge, justify, validate

  1. Create

Definitions: put elements together to form a new coherent or functional whole. Appropriate learning outcome verbs for this level include: arrange, assemble, build, design, invent, perform, plan,  produce…

As a University, our teaching methods do not and should not camp on level one and two but set camp on the complex and expect many creative works from you and then get the Directorate of Research and Innovation busy keeping your creations safe and helping you incubate and patent your ideas and hopefully commercialize for wealth creation.

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.

*(watch clip on sentiments from the education minister from Ghana)

The Little Foxes

Learn to reflect on, 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?

1.     Laziness

 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).

2.     Social life

Peers have an important role to play both socially, emotionally and academically among first-year students. It is argued that students who relate well to fellow students; either supportive friends or disciplined specific peers, will have a successful university transition (Editor, Feggie, Maeorg & Michell, 2014). From this, my plea to you is to be careful and choose your friends very carefully.

A study done in Moi University found that although the majority of first-year students consulted continuing senior students and friends for guidance in transition to university, some ended up being misled especially on academics and social life.  From the results, there is intensive negative peer pressure on social life among first year students. As a result, they interfere with their academic transition hence affecting their careers.  A few students were supported positively by their peers (Too, Sang & Njage, 2022).

Compare this with the warning we are given in Psalm 1:1 “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.” (NIV)

3.     Sexual involvement

A cross-sectional study was done to evaluate the family connectedness and sexual behaviour of students aged 18 to 24 years at the University of Nairobi. There were 904 participants, both male and female, who were registered students of the University of Nairobi. About half of all students were found to be involved in risky sexual behaviour. Six hundred and forty (70.8%) of the respondents were sexually active – 372 males and 268 females. High-risk sex was reported by 203 male respondents (54.6%) and 117 females (43.7%). Universities have a student population in the age range of 17 to 25 years, 75 % of whom are sexually active, with the median age of sexual debut at age 18 years (Wachira, Mathai and Kathuku , 2019).

Surely this depiction can only be described as a sad state of affairs. Intellectuals ought to have a way of preserving self, have confidence and self control and act human. Even a trained animal can exercise control. My plea to you, my sons and daughters is; “Don’t make a mouse of yourself, or else you will be eaten by cats” (German proverb).

I count him/her braver who overcomes his/her desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self – Aristotle (BC386-322).

Take these verses seriously and you will be victorious in your flesh wars!

  1. 1 Corinthians 10:13 - God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.
  2. 2 Timothy 1:7 - For God did not give a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of self control.
  3. Proverbs 16:32 - Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self control than one who takes a city.
  4. Hebrews 12:1-2 - Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

4.     Betting

According to Wood, Griffiths and Petry (2007), university students have been identified as the largest group with high risk in relation to gambling activities especially online gambling. The space that comes with joining university provides students with a lot of freedom that allows them to effectively understand the gambling terminologies and how effective and efficient technology has made it possible.

We have seen many students who have become miserable and made it worse for family and friends because they became proficient conmen. Trust God to meet your every need. God has given us an assurance that He will provide our every need. Psalm 145:16 says - “You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.” Indeed the Psalmist knew Hid God. Know this God. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.” Psalm 23:1

5.     Mental health

I am sure you are now familiar with our Student Counselors and the Chaplaincy department members. They are here to support you and have very good programmes to help you. They can assist you get treatment, guidance and support, connect you to peer support services, etc.

A random sample of 923 University of Nairobi students (525 male and  365 female) were surveyed and the result was that depressive illness was significantly more common among the first year students, those who were married; those who were economically disadvantaged and those living off campus (Othieno, okoth, Peltzer, Pengpid & Malla, (2014)

Learn to replace your hopeless thoughts with positive ones for as we are told in 

Proverbs 23:7a  - For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. Let us all purpose to be positive thinkers as given in Philippians 4:8. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Think about good things for personal victory in any situation 

 

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. 
  4. 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.
  5. 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 judgment 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. You 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.”

May you become Kenya’s finest men and women for the glory of God.

Thank you and God bless you. 

 

Prof. Henry K. Kiplangat, PhD, MBS, OGW

VICE CHANCELLOR

 

 

References:

Othieno C, Okoth R.O., Peltzer K., Pengpid S & Malla, L (2014) Depression among university students in Kenya: Prevalence and sociodemographic correlates. Journal of Affective Disorders 165:120–125

Wachira, F., Mathai M., and Kathuku D. M., 2019). Family Connectedness and its association with sexual risk-taking among university Students in University of Nairobi. East Afr. Health Research Journal 2019; 3 (1) 24-30

Wood, R. T. A., Griffiths, M. D., & Parke, J. (2007). Acquisition, development and maintenance of online poker playing in a student sample. Cyber Psychology & Behavior, 10, 354-361

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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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