Address by His Excellency Hon Dr Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka
Vice President of the Republic of Kenya and Minister for Home Affairs
Chairman of Aga Khan University Board of Trustees, Mr Saidullah KhanDehlavi;
Members of the Board of Trustees;
The University President, Mr Firoz Rasul:
Ladies and Gentlemen;
We have assembled here once again to celebrate another year of academic achievement. On this sixth graduation ceremony of Aga Khan University, 82 graduands will receive degrees and diplomas to mark the end of a rigorous and exciting academic experience. These graduands have worked hard and made us proud. I congratulate you all and wish you the best in your careers. I also congratulate faculty and other members of staff who have guided you in your academic journey to this day. Your families have been there for you, and they too deserve our congratulations.
May I also behalf of the government and people of Kenya extend our deep appreciation to His Highness the Aga Khan - the spiritual leader and Imam of the Ismaili community - for his immense contribution to the development of education in our country. Indeed, the commitment of His Highness to Kenya through the Aga Khan Development Network transcends all sectors of our society, including education, healthcare and community service.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is often said, and rightly so, that education is the best inheritance a parent can bequeath a child. This is possibly more tenable in an African setting, such as Kenya, where land, arguably the most valued inheritance, is no longer easily available. There is a clear link between education and development as evidence abounds that countries that have achieved high levels of development also have a corresponding highly trained and educated population. A good education therefore brings with it added benefits and limitless opportunities. It is the key to unlocking individual potential and solving the challenges that confront us.
This fact notwithstanding, the government is conscious of the challenge of possessing education without employment, a challenge that relates mostly to our youths. We must now move further and impart in our youth an education that prepares them for the world of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship that has been the case in the past. This can be achieved through strategic linkages between research and industry to ensure that what goes on in our laboratories has a direct bearing on the production lines. In this regard, the government has formulated education policies that deliberately emphasise relevance and quality delivery at all levels so as to produce creative and innovative citizens who can provide practical solutions to our country's development challenges.
Secondly, we must impart knowledge and skills alongside attributes of positive character formation that empower the youth to confront social ills such as corruption and immorality. We need an education that produces all-round students capable of self reliance and can stand the test of integrity.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The government attaches great importance to the education sector and has over the years provided it with the largest budgetary allocation. Phenomenal growth has subsequently been witnessed from primary school level all the way to university. We now have seven public universities, up from one; several constituent colleges; and 18 private universities, including Aga Khan University.
Despite the increase in the number of universities, the demand for higher education continues to grow. This is largely attributed to the highly successful free primary and secondary education programme in public schools that has resulted in unprecedented high level of enrolment, as well as the introduction of parallel degree programmes for self-sponsored students. In the short term, therefore, universities must quickly think of innovative ways to accommodate the growing numbers of qualifies candidates in order to broaden access to higher education.
I therefore urge the private sector as well as not-for-profit organisations to take advantage of Kenyans' insatiable demand for higher education to invest in this sector by establishing new universities and expanding facilities in the existing ones. And as they do so, quality and standards must never be compromised. The government will strictly monitor compliance to ensure that standards are not only upheld but that the courses offered are relevant to the country's needs and aspirations as espoused in Vision 2030.
I am glad to note that Aga Khan University has, in the relatively short period it has been in existence in Kenya, distinguished itself as an institution that aspires to be a world leader in scholarship and research, targeting real issues that affect the diverse population it serves. I commend the University's management for visionary step to establish a new full-fledged Faculty of Health Sciences to offer undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in medicine, nursing and other health sciences. This truly demonstrates that you are a university in tune with the realities and demands of our times.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me now direct my concluding remarks to the graduating class. As I have already mentioned, this graduation in a way, marks the end of the academic phase of your career pursuit. It also heralds the beginning of a new chapter in your life, one which comes with heavy possibilities and high expectations, but also great rewards. For those of you with an interest in higher levels of scholarship, I urge you to use this graduation as a springboard since learning is a lifelong process. And to all of you, my counsel is that success abounds if you stay professional, work hard, and honour God. The road ahead is certainly tougher, yet fulfilling if well navigated. What will distinguish you from the rest is how well you apply the skills and knowledge that you have acquired. We are proud of Aga Khan University because we believe it has prepared you well, and this makes me confident that a bright future awaits you.
Once again, congratulations on your graduation and may God bless you all.
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