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Kenya: PS Nabukwesi says research will improve quality of higher education

Africa/Kenya/30-07-2021/Author:ERIC BIEGON, KNA/Source:

The Principal Secretary in the State Department of University Education and Research Amb. Simon Nabukwesi has yet again made a case for more research in the country’s institutions of higher learning.

Speaking during the official opening of the 5th Annual Conference of the Co-operative University of Kenya, Amb Nabukwesi noted that nations that lack the capacity to carry out their own research, struggle when faced with challenges such as the current covid-19 pandemic.

“Covid-19 global pandemic shows us, in more ways than we could have imagined, that we are all connected as a people irrespective of the many boundaries and restrictions that we may have,” The PS said,

He added that “when the first case of Covid-19 was reported in Kenya, most of us, if not all, imagined that this would be a passing cloud and that soon we would resume our normal day to day activities”

Nabukwesi however expressed satisfaction given that during the two-day-Conference, a number of academic papers will be presented under the theme of ‘Social and Solidarity Economy as a catalyst for resilience, inclusivity, and attainment of Sustainable Development Goals,’

“I am glad to hear that this is the second conference that the University is holding virtually, to discuss Covid-19, a commendable achievement to the University and organizers of this event,” remarked the PS.

This kind of resilience, Nabukwesi said, emphasizes that life has to indeed move on and research has to be done and documented. He emphasized that research is, will remain to be, a major activity in any institution of higher learning worth its name.

Further, the PS said research informs the development strategies of any nation and Kenya is no exception.

“It has been reported that less than two percent of all Africans are vaccinated against Covid-19 while in the US it is about 50 percent,” added Nabukwesi.

This Report, the PS said, is a sad reality that serves as an eye-opener for developing countries such as Kenya, that special attention and resources ought to be directed towards research and development.

Nabukwesi said the Ministry continues to lay great emphasis on the importance of research as a means to solving Kenyan, African, and even global challenges.

“My challenge to faculty in this University is to contribute to the generation of new knowledge on Cooperatives and how Cooperatives can help us to resolve societal challenges,” added the PS.

Nabukwesi said that he would like to see more research from faculty that focuses, among other topics, on how the country can harness the greatness of Cooperatives to contribute to the Government’s Development Agenda, including contributing to the ‘Big Four’ Agenda.

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Kenya: Universities urged to invest in research, innovation and publications

Africa/Kenya/02-07-2021/Author: Source:

Kisii University Vice Chancellor Professor John Akama has challenged Kenyan universities to seek more resources for research, innovation and publications as a core mandate of university education.

Speaking during the launch of his book ‘Undeterred: A Rural Boy’s Journey to the Pinnacle of Academia’ at Kisii University, Professor Akama said most individuals with doctorate degrees and professor titles have not done sufficient work in research and innovation or published their work.

“One of the guest professors from the University of Toronto told us that the lecturers there are researchers and innovators. As such, the university gets about 50 million dollars in grants for research purposes and through their research, they contribute almost 20 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Canada with new products and scientific knowledge creation,” said Akama.

The Vice Chancellor noted that developed countries had made great strides in the fields of agriculture, industry and medicine due to the quality of university education they offer and urged policymakers to give more emphasis on university education.

“Even the Covid-19 vaccines that we have now have been developed by scientists who work in science labs in universities and therefore, if we undermine research, we cannot develop,” added Akama.

He asked the universities to push for more public-private partnerships from government and private institutions in order to secure more resources for their academic and innovation agenda.

Akama decried an increase in social media engagements as opposed to reading books and urged Kenyans, especially lecturers to interrogate academic work.

The book ‘Undeterred: A Rural Boy’s Journey to the Pinnacle of Academia’ narrates Professor Akama’s unique and personal story of overcoming many odds and succeeding in several fronts to get to the pinnacle of academia and university leadership.

Prof Akama grew up in a simple rural African setting in Kenya’s hinterland, and was raised by a typical Kenyan peasant family with meagre resources and limited frills.

“He went through early childhood enculturation and basic education in rural Kenyan schools, characterized by limited educational resources, scant infrastructure and minimal facilities,” reads part of the synopsis.


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Kenya: Shortage of professors a concern at Kenyatta university says VC

Africa/Kenya/04-06-2021/Author and Source:

Kenyatta University Vice Chancellor, Paul Wainaina, has raised concern over few number of professors in the institution, saying it might affect the quality of future education and research.

He said the University has not had a full professor for the past four years to replace those who retire or leave through other causes pointing out that Department of Education has only four full and two associate professors.

Prof. Wanaina observed that most of the remaining professors will be all gone in the coming years, leaving the university at cross roads in terms of education quality and research.

“The future of every university lies with its think tanks who are the professors. There used to be a time when we used to be like eight full professors and several associates. Now it is worrying because I have just a few years left before I leave and I have not seen anyone close to a professor level,” he said.

He said it may seem like dark days in the education industry since the mainstay of quality education is evidence-based knowledge brought by professors.

The Don called on lecturers to further their studies through doing more research and attain the prof. stature, in order to save the future of the departments and the quality of education in the country.

“Professors are the apex of scholarship in any university. We need to get more lecturers promoted into professors to save the quality of education starting with teaching, doing research for solving problems of this nation,” said Wainaina.

He was speaking as one of the lecturers, Dr. Rubai Mandela, launched a book, Before Two Become One, at a Ruiru hotel.

He said the university would support those in the field of research to attain those high education accolades to ensure they bring out qualified scholars, who will hold up the university in future.

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Right-wing academics feel threatened & censored at UK universities, says think tank demanding change

Europe/United Kingdom/09-08-2020/Author and Source:

Academic freedom in the UK is in peril, with universities increasingly hostile to right-wing views, a new study claims. Complaints about campus bias and ‘cancel culture’ are 10 a penny, but this one carries more weight than most.

“Britain’s universities are world-leading. Yet there is growing concern that academic freedom in these institutions is being undermined.” opens a report

According to the report, one in four social sciences academics would be willing to support a dismissal campaign against a colleague who expresses right-wing views on multiculturalism, imperialism, parenting, or diversity in organizations. Right-leaning professors, outnumbered three to one by their left-wing colleagues, say that the climate in universities is hostile to their views. More than 60 percent of ‘very right’ professors perceive this hostility, compared to only 16 percent of those who identify as ‘very left.’

A third of all right-leaning academics say they’ve refrained from airing their views in teaching and research, compared to 15 percent of left-wingers.

Academics lean further left than the general population. While less than one in ten Britons want increased immigration to the UK, nearly a third of academics support an increased influx. Conversely, while more than half of the population wants immigration lowered, only 16 percent of academics support this policy.

However, the most divisive issue on campus appears to be Brexit. With only 17 percent of academics admitting that they voted leave, these leavers feel that the campus isn’t the place to air their views. In fact, just over half of all respondents said they’d feel comfortable sitting in a meeting or taking lunch with a leave voter. “[I’ve] been told leavers are fascists,” one leave voter who identifies as a “centrist”

Across the board, only three in ten academics think that a leave supporter would be comfortable expressing their views on campus. “I told someone I had voted leave and they called me a racist,” one such supporter said. “I voted leave but was scared to reveal this as my colleagues were so aggressive in their attitude,” another said.

Trans issues are a hot-button topic too, with only 37 percent of respondents saying they’d have lunch with someone who opposes admitting transsexuals to women’s refuge centers.

That a right-leaning think tank would highlight these issues is unsurprising. Opposition to ‘cancel culture’ has grown in recent months, even among prominent leftists. The so-called ‘Harper’s Letter’ is the most high-profile example of this opposition, having been signed by figures like JK Rowling and Noam Chomsky. However, the letter has been criticized for its limp stance, and its vague calls for “open debate.”

The Policy Exchange paper has some more concrete recommendations. It calls for the government to appoint a director for academic freedom to the Office for Students, to investigate violations of freedom of speech, and for violators of this freedom to face civil action. The Office of Students is instructed to fine universities for breaches of academic freedom, and universities are asked to adopt a commitment to freedom, along the lines of the Chicago Principles, signed by 72 universities in the US.

Policy Exchange has succeeded in influencing actual policy before. The government adopted one of its papers on reviving traditional architecture in 2019, and in 2016, the government took on board its advice that military personnel in combat zones be protected from lawsuits for all but the most serious breaches of humanitarian law.

The organization’s latest report has been backed by some prominent public figures. “It does the country no good if our educators, our academics, our scholars and, most importantly, our students feel that they can’t speak or engage without fear of retribution,” former Labour MP Ruth Smeeth wrote in its foreword.

In a statement to the media, Universities Minister Michelle Donelan added: “It is deeply concerning the extent to which students and academics with mainstream views are being silenced and discriminated against in our universities,” promising to “strengthen free speech and academic freedom.”

However, some of the more determined leftists are unlikely to be won over. “The idea that academic freedom is under threat is a myth,” University and College Union Secretary Jo Grady responded in a statement. “The main concern our members express is not with think-tank-inspired bogeymen, but with the current government’s wish to police what can and cannot be taught at university.”

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Kenya: MKU to establish college of graduate studies and research

Africa/Kenya/ 08-12-2019/ Author(a): Muraya Kamunde/Source:

Mount Kenya University (MKU) will establish a college of graduate studies and research to enhance synergy.

MKU Council Chairman Prof David Serem says the Council has approved the rebranding of the postgraduate training and research.

Speaking during the 17th graduation ceremony of the University at graduation Prof. Serem said the College will have two key interrelated functions namely; graduate studies and research services.

The Directorate of Graduate Studies shall be responsible for providing the requisite environment for research, co-ordination and facilitation while the Directorate of Research and Innovation shall be responsible for the coordination of research and innovation.

He says this will ensure that graduate studies are linked to the University research for effective dissemination of knowledge.

According to Serem the Council will support the implementation of the 5-year Strategic Plan for the College of Graduate Studies and Research.

He said the University is in compliance with regulatory requirements, approved guidelines on inspection of accommodation and catering facilities for health, safety and sanitation.

“Institution hygiene and sanitation are important because of the need for a healthy environment to support students’ welfare,” said Serem.

During the graduation presided over by MKU Chancellor Prof. John Struthers,  5169 graduands were awarded and conferred with certificates, diploma and degrees.

Ten graduates were conferred with PhDs and another 119 were conferred with masters while 3844 with bachelor degrees.

MKU founder Prof. Simon Gicharu said that strategic partnerships have been identified as a key cog in rolling the wheel of development.

Gicharu announced that the institution had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with STAG African Group to develop 3,000-bed ultra-modern hostels to address the shortage of students’ accommodation.

Recently MKU formalized a partnership with United Nations Volunteers (UNV).

The partnership will provide opportunities to students to offer volunteer services at United Nations Entities globally.

“I am aware that this is the first UN University Volunteer agreement in Kenya and in the East and Southern African region. The Board of Director has committed to invest resources to support five students to undertake the volunteer programme for six months in 2020 at a cost of approximately Ksh 4 million,” said Gicharu.

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Australia: Understanding China from seismometer by Australian students

Oceania/Australia/10-11-2019/Author(a): huaxia/Source:

From umbrella to ship, from wood-block printer to brocade loom, from catapult to seismometer and even the ancient Chinese soccer, Australian students’ interpretation of «Chinese inventions» could even surprise some Chinese.

On Wednesday, 87 students from 15 primary and middle schools in Canberra received awards of the Panda Competition in the Chinese Embassy in Australia for their works.

Award-winning works by students are displayed in the Chinese Embassy in Canberra, Australia, Nov. 6, 2019. (Xinhua/Liang Tianzhou)

According to Carol Keil, president of the Australian Capital Territory Branch of the Australia China Friendship Society, the award winners were selected from about 500 candidates.

The number of participants could be higher, «because more put their entries and the teachers chose the best,» she told Xinhua.

This is the 25th year for the competition to be hosted. It was called Panda Competition because topic for the first year was panda.

«Every year we look at a topic, which need to be China-related,» she said. «This year it is inventions. I knew they should be more than just four, so it gave the kids scope to make different things.»

Nathaniel Sircombe, a Year-6 student from Mawson Primary School, made a block printer. Using his printer, he could print some Chinese characters saying «the block printing technique was invented by China».

At first he wanted to make some paper, but after research, he was fascinated by the printing technique.

«Research for the work took about an hour,» said the 12-year-old boy. «But I did a lot of waiting for the paper to dry (after printing).»

Sircombe told Xinhua that his interest in Chinese culture started about seven years ago when he was in the kindergarten. He also began learning Mandarin then.

«We thought it was best to learn a language at a young age,» said his father Keith. «The sooner you start, perhaps the better you get.»

Eight-year-old girl Samantha Gray’s work was a ship carrying silk and porcelain.

Award-winning works by students are displayed in the Chinese Embassy in Canberra, Australia, Nov. 6, 2019. (Xinhua/Liang Tianzhou)

«It took her almost a month to complete it,» said her mother Kanayo Gray. «She made it little by little every day.»

Kanayo Gray was from Japan, and she said that she learned a lot about Chinese invention with her daughter while she was doing research, including ship-building techniques and international trade of ancient China.

Her son, 12-year-old Kenneth Gray from the Mawson Primary School, grabbed the top prize at the competition by making a seismometer with a bucket, tines, pipes and paint. It works like the original one created by Chinese astronomer Zhang Heng about 2,000 years ago. When it was shaken, a ball would come out of the mouth of a dragon pointing in a certain direction, falling into the mouth of a toad beneath it.

«China is a country that developed very quickly, and it made many creations that are interesting,» said the boy.

«I have never heard of seismometer before,» said Carol Keil. «I learned from the students how it works to detect earthquake.»

She noted that learning about another culture «broadens your appreciation of how the world works.»

Award-winning works by students are displayed in the Chinese Embassy in Canberra, Australia, Nov. 6, 2019. (Xinhua/Liang Tianzhou)

«The competition has different topics every year, so they look at something different related to China and Australia,» she said. «In this way they could have a broader understanding of China. I think with the research they do, they will go and look out what the inventions were.»

Yang Zhi, minister-counselor for culture at the Chinese Embassy in Australia, agreed.

«From the works we could see that the children are very creative and full of imagination,» he said. «They searched online and read books. The process itself helps them understand Chinese culture better.»

During the past 25 years, the competition is getting bigger. «It could fuel the enthusiasm of Australian children to learn Chinese culture, and they then would influence their teachers and parents, and ultimately affect the education authorities and promote Chinese language as well.»

Samantha and Kenneth are learning Mandarin as well.

«Chinese is a language for the future,» said their father Collin Gray. He believed that learning the culture and the language would contribute to cross-cultural understanding.

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Childhood sibling dynamics may predict differences in college education

United States/ 18.06.2018/By: Penn State/ From:

The effects of sibling relationships may go beyond childhood bickering and bonding, according to Penn State researchers who found that these relationships may predict similarities and differences in siblings’ education later in life.

In a study spanning about 15 years, the researchers found that when siblings felt more warmth toward each other in childhood, they were more likely to achieve similar levels of education. But, when siblings felt that their parents’ treatment of themselves versus their sibling was unfair, or when their fathers spent more time with one sibling than the other, those siblings achieved different levels of education.

Xiaoran Sun, a doctoral candidate in human development and family studies, said the results held up even when the researchers controlled for the siblings’ grade-point averages across childhood and adolescence, suggesting that school achievement may not be the only factor determining what level of education a person achieves.

«While school is obviously important, this study helps show that what goes on inside families can have an impact, as well,» said Susan McHale, distinguished professor of human development and family studies. «Warmth from siblings may not mean you’re more likely to go to college, but it seems to be a factor in how similarly the two siblings turn out. People don’t tend to think about siblings being important to academic achievement, but our findings highlight the importance of family experiences — beyond what happens at school.»

Previous research has shown that graduating college has an impact on an individual’s employment, health and the way they form families of their own. While it’s been shown that parenting can affect educational achievement, little work has been done to study whether siblings have an effect.

«A lot of research on child development focuses on one child in the family, with the assumption that if you know what happens to this one child, you know how families operate to socialize children,» McHale said. «But in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world, more children grow up in a home with a sibling than with a father figure. So by studying siblings, you start to get a better sense of the larger family context of development.»

The researchers followed the two oldest siblings from 152 families from middle childhood through their mid-twenties. The families lived in central Pennsylvania and were mainly European-American.

When the siblings were an average of 11.8 and 9.2 years old, the researchers measured warmth by asking the children questions, like how often they turned to their sibling for advice or support. Additionally, the researchers gathered data on whether the parents treated their children differently, and whether the siblings thought this different treatment was fair or not. They also measured how much time the siblings spent alone with their mothers and fathers.

When the siblings were around 26 years old, the researchers followed up to ask each sibling about their highest level of completed education.

«The sibling relationship factors that we tested did not predict whether an individual sibling would graduate from college or not, but we did find predictors of whether siblings would achieve different levels of education,» said Sun. «The findings provide clues about how sibling relationships can affect education pathways.»

The researchers said there are a few possible explanations for the findings, which were recently published in the journal Child Development. Sun said that when siblings feel more warmth for each other, they have a closer relationship in general, and thus may be more likely to follow similar paths in their education achievement.

«When two people are closer to each other, they tend to treat each other as role models,» Sun said. «And this could be for better or for worse. They can be ‘partners in crime,’ as some prior work suggests, or partners in achievement, as we found. It’s not that siblings who are close are more likely to graduate from college, they’re just more likely to end up with the same level of education, either graduating from college or not.»

McHale said that for the siblings who ended up with different levels of education, the perception of their parents treating them differently and unfairly may have been part of what drove their different choices.

«Children are vigilant in noticing how they’re treated relative to their siblings, and parents need to be aware of this and on their guard,» McHale said. «Many parents treat their children differently and have very good reasons to do so, but children need to understand parents’ reasons, and parents have to have conversations with their children to explain those reasons. If kids perceive their treatment as fair or justified, even if it’s different from their siblings’, then there’s not the same negative effect.»

Sun said the results could help design future interventions that focus on siblings. The researchers said that it may be helpful to design studies that could explore the possible causal role of sibling relationships on education, as well as studies of more diverse populations.


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