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Egerton University Celebrates Inaugural Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Richard Musangi

Under the leadership of Prof. Musangi, Egerton College experienced tremendous development in the 1980s.

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.Prof. Musangi, who was born in 1934 in Bungoma County, Western Kenya, was the Principal of Egerton College between 1981 and 1987.

The Egerton University community mourns the passing of Prof. Richard S. Musangi and celebrates the University’s connection to this distinguished scholar, educator, and academic administrator.

Prof. Musangi, who was born in 1934 in Bungoma County, Western Kenya, was the Principal of Egerton College between 1981 and 1987.

Upon the elevation of the College to a University in the latter year, he became the inaugural Vice-Chancellor of Egerton University, serving in that capacity until 1992.

Prof. Musangi fondly remembered that his association with Egerton College started in 1961, when, as a final-year Agriculture student at Makerere College, he and his classmates stayed for two nights at the College while touring neighbouring farms. His next encounter with the College was in 1965, when, as a lecturer in Animal Science at Makerere, along with other colleagues, he came to Egerton to examine students for the East African Diploma in Agriculture, which was conducted from Makerere. In 1972, Musangi, as a lecturer in Animal Science at the University of Nairobi, was appointed an external examiner for Egerton College. At about the same time, Musangi joined the Egerton College Board of Governors (BoG) by virtue of being the Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture at Nairobi. Prof. Musangi became the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nairobi in 1979, and it is from that position that he came to Egerton College.      

Under the leadership of Prof. Musangi, Egerton College experienced tremendous development in the 1980s. Prof. Musangi steered the institution through a major United States Agency for International Development (USAID)/Government of Kenya-sponsored expansion programme. The actual implementation of the programme was a joint venture between the Egerton authorities and the South East Consortium for International Development (SECID), USA. The programme entailed the development of various forms of infrastructure, counterpart training for Egerton staff, and acquisition of equipment. Promoting research, teaching, and community service, the programme constituted a big leap forward for Egerton. The SECID impact on infrastructure and staff development not only increased the student population from 860 in 1982 to 1526 in the 1986/1987 academic year but also solidified the chances for the eventual upgrading of the College to a fully-fledged University.

Another development at Egerton specifically attributable to Prof. Musangi was the Institutional Development for Agricultural Training (IDAT) programme. The purpose of IDAT was to strengthen and consolidate the activities under the previous expansion programme, which had ended in July 1984. IDAT resulted in additional training opportunities for Egerton staff.

Two new diploma programmes were initiated at Egerton in the 1980s in addition to the fourteen already established. These were Diploma in Food Marketing and Diploma in Forestry. The launching of these programmes demonstrated Egerton’s flexibility and capacity to respond to national and broader needs. By 1980, agricultural marketing had been identified as a hindrance to agricultural development in Kenya. Similarly, the Diploma in Forestry was in line with a new Government approach focussing on rural afforestation for national development.

An expert builder of intricate academic and development networks, internationally respected and connected to numerous donors, Prof. Musangi stimulated unprecedented vibrancy in research, outreach, and related activities at his institution. In particular, Prof. Musangi spearheaded the intensification of Egerton’s outreach programme, which led to the setting up of the Agricultural Resources Centre (ARC). Similarly, under him, Egerton’s collaboration with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), which had started in 1975, deepened. This collaboration resulted in joint work in a variety of projects as well as in the establishment of the Crop Management Research and Training Centre (CMRT). Both ARC and CMRT continue to thrive as facilities for training of agricultural professionals at the University.

The establishment of linkages between Egerton College and other institutions owed a great deal to Prof. Musangi’s personal initiative. Besides the institutional linkages between Egerton and the SECID universities, collaborative activities developed between the College and other institutions – especially in research and extension. The linkages expanded as Egerton College became a University.

Concerned about the state of farms around the College, in 1984 Prof. Musangi established an extension project whose aim was to disseminate the knowledge generated at his learning institution to the benefit of farmers in the neighbourhood.

The increased demand for academic staff at the growing institution led to aggressive recruitment in the 1980s. Prof. Musangi travelled overseas to personally meet identified bright postgraduate students to persuade them to join Egerton upon the completion of their studies, and he successfully recruited a number of such staff. By the end of 1985, Egerton College had a faculty of 134 full-time members, 13 of whom had Ph.D. degrees, and 50 had M.Sc. degrees.

Aided by his administration, Prof. Musangi also took significant steps to promote the welfare of staff through such projects as a tenant service scheme, extramural studies, recreation and the Catholic chaplaincy. With foresight and decisiveness, Prof. Musangi abolished the institutional credit system which had made many Egerton employees perpetual debtors. Working closely with the BoG, Prof. Musangi also brought about the development of Kilimo Primary School and Egerton Primary School.

Prof. Musangi was the driving force behind the College’s renewed effort in the early 1980s for its elevation to the status of a University. The push for the introduction of degree programmes at Egerton persuaded the Government to set up the Egerton College Upgrading Committee (the Ayany Committee) in December 1983 to look into the issue. The Ayany Committee submitted its report on 30 April 1984. The Committee was fully satisfied that the College was ready, in terms of both availability of land, and physical and academic infrastructure, to start degree courses.

Subsequently, the Government decided to first upgrade Egerton College to a Constituent College of the University of Nairobi in 1986. It was, therefore, the University of Nairobi Senate which approved the degree programmes for Egerton University College in the following five areas: Animal Production, Agricultural Engineering, Agricultural Education, Agriculture and Home Economics, and Horticulture.

At the same time, the Senate approved the following four faculties and fifteen departments for the new Egerton University College: Faculty of Agriculture – comprising the Departments of Horticulture, Agronomy (incorporating Crop and Soil Science), Natural Resources (Wildlife, Range Management, and Forestry), Animal Science, Animal Health, Agricultural Engineering, as well as Dairy and Food Science and Technology; Faculty of Agricultural Education and Human Resources – consisting of the Departments of Agricultural Education, Agricultural Extension, as well as Agriculture and Home Economics; Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences – having the Departments of Economics, Geography, and Anthropology; and Faculty of Science – comprising the Departments of Biological Sciences (Zoology and Botany) and Physical Sciences (Mathematics, Computer Science, Chemistry, and Physics).

Only a year later, in 1987, Egerton University was established as an independent institution through an Act of Parliament, becoming Kenya’s fourth public university (alongside University of Nairobi, Moi University, and Kenyatta University).

A vibrant and focused Vice-Chancellor, at the end of the 1980s and the start of the 1990s, Prof. Musangi laid a solid foundation for the growth of Egerton as a University, paying equal attention to academics, research, and community service. This was a difficult period for university education in Kenya, when a worsening economic situation in the country and the consequent decline in financial resources allocated by the Government to public universities, coupled with two double intakes of students (in the 1987/1988 and the 1990/1991 academic year), made the functioning of the newly established University challenging.

Prof. Musangi faced the difficulties and ensured growth and stability through an admirable balancing capability. With students, he was a strict disciplinarian, and at the same time he was their best advisor, an inspirer, and an undisputable role model. Sociable and approachable, he gave the impression of working with effortless ease, yet accomplishing all that he set out to do.

Prof. Musangi published widely in the area of Animal Science and Agricultural Education. On leaving Egerton University, he worked as a Consultant to several international organisations and development institutions.

In 2013, President Mwai Kibaki appointed him as the Chancellor of Kabianga University. In his retirement, he spent most of his time within Nakuru County, meeting and socialising with his former students, peers and friends, as well as enjoying the game of golf. Friends enjoyed his generosity and infectious laughter.

Throughout his work at Egerton College and Egerton University, Prof. Musangi exhibited impeccable managerial competence, imaginative initiative, clear vision, strictness, fairness, and unwavering dedication to service.

To the Egerton University Community, Prof. Richard S. Musangi, who died on 27 August 2021, will forever remain a beacon of light.

Writer,  PROF. ISAAC O. KIBWAGE, PhD, HSC AG. VICE-CHANCELLOR

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Business

The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business announces collaboration with McGill University

McGill University, a global leader at the forefront of academic research and scholarship in Canada, has begun work with The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business to advance sustainable development across African markets and Canada

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Following the jointly hosted Forum on the African Continent Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) (https://bit.ly/3kDxT9g) on August 25, held with representatives of the governments of Ghana and Senegal, the Canada-Africa Chamber of Business (www.CanadaAfrica.ca) and McGill University have announced a new partnership.

The announcement sees McGill University collaborating with The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business (CACB) in training, research, advisory and consultancy activities, mentorship, networking and information sharing.  All toward contributing to sustainable development efforts across multiple countries in Africa and globally.

‘The role of policy research and scholarship on Canada-Africa affairs is vital to delivering our information-sharing mandate, through world-class events and programs,’ says Garreth Bloor, President of The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business. ‘From early-stage entrepreneurs to established corporations, our members are set to benefit to immensely from a new initiative to which we are proud partners with McGill University.’

Professor Fabrice Labeau, McGill’s Deputy Provost, Student Life and Learning notes, ‘The long-term engagement of McGill with Africa is exemplified by our African Studies program. Established in 1969, it is the first of its kind in Canada. Additionally, with 200 years of McGill history, our very extensive network of alumni continues to make an impact in Africa and globally. An example of McGill’s current Africa partnerships is the Mastercard Foundation (MCF) Scholars Program (https://bit.ly/3gMBOj4) that has invested in over 100 African Scholars since 2013, and since 2020 includes a Transitions Project (https://bit.ly/3zxr1R3), with a focus on facilitating Scholars’ transitions to entrepreneurship or employment for impact in Africa.’

‘As part of the Transitions Project, there is an opportunity for businesses, governments and NGOs, including Canada-Africa Chamber members, to work with McGill on internships for MCF Scholars and recent graduates seeking experiences back home, or in African countries other than their own country of origin, contributing to greater mobility in line with AfCFTA. Also, through a pilot McGill MCF Transitions Fund (MCF-TF), partners can provide matching contributions for co-creating or scaling entrepreneurship and employment-creation projects with funded Scholars and recent graduates,’ highlights Dr. Nii Addy, McGill’s Associate Director, Africa Outreach.

Sebastian Spio-Garbrah, Chair of The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business and its Special Envoy to the AfCFTA Secretariat in Ghana, says ‘Canada is Africa’s trusted third party and an honest broker’.

‘The role of academia and think tanks is thus vital in not only working with the private sector directly, but extends to creating an enabling environment for trade and investment in partnership with Canadian and African leaders. The foresight and vision of McGill and Dr. Nii Addy in particular is applauded – as we ensure an exciting era in Canada-Africa trade and investment is upon us’.

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Education

Outgoing USIU-Africa Vice Chancellor donates $1 million library

Positioning Universities as Engines of Innovation for Sustainable Development and Innovation,” Journal of Higher Education in Africa, 2019.

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The United States International University-Africa has received a rare treasure trove of academic materials, including more than 10,000 textbooks valued at more than US$ 1 Million, from the outgoing Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Tiyambe Zeleza.
The academic gift comprises Prof. Zeleza’s personal academic library featuring books, transcripts, research papers, journals, and conference reports collected over the last four decades from various continents.
Speaking at a handover ceremony graced by Former Chief Justice Dr. Willy Mutunga among other dignitaries, Prof. Zeleza described his tenure at USIU-Africa as an unforgettable experience.
“Donating these books to USIU-Africa represents my dedication to enhancing the University’s learning and research capacities. More broadly, it reflects my lifelong passion for promoting African knowledge production and cultivating the culture of philanthropy in African universities,” Prof. Zeleza said.
He added that “I trust that the Professor Paul Zeleza collection will be well taken care of and benefit generations of faculty and students and researchers from across Africa. I have collected a valuable library that will help advance academic delivery in African, Diaspora, Development, Gender, Environmental, Cultural and Globalization studies. The library also holds books on economic history, intellectual history, creative works, and science and technology, areas I’ve immersed myself in and that the collection covers.”
Dr. Mutunga lauded Professor Zeleza for leaving an indelible mark on the history of the University.
“The books donated here today are a representation of Prof. Zeleza’s lifelong passion for promoting African knowledge production and cultivating the culture of philanthropy in African universities. The pride of any university lies in its ability to engage in cutting edge research and USIU-Africa has remained committed to this cause in its years of operation. Through the donation of his personal library, Prof. Zeleza has demonstrated his dedication to the enhancement of the University’s learning and research capacities,” said Dr. Mutunga.
The Prof. Zeleza academic library collection also includes his archives of personal papers and manuscripts of his voluminous publications. The collection built over the last four decades showcases an illustrious academic and administrative career. This collection will boost the current resources at the USIU-Africa Library which include 204,804 print books, 48,751 print periodicals, over 100,000 online journals, over 200,000 electronic books, 16,348 non-print media and 47 electronic databases.
A Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences, Prof. Zeleza has worked at several universities in the Caribbean, Kenya, Canada, and the United States and has held distinguished academic appointments and administrative positions. His scholarly work has crossed traditional boundaries, ranging from economic and intellectual history to human rights, gender studies and diaspora studies. He has published more than 300 journal articles, book chapters, reviews, short stories and online essays and authored or edited 27 books, several of which have won international awards. He has also worked as a consultant with various philanthropic foundations and UN agencies. His research project on the African academic diaspora conducted for the Carnegie Corporation of New York in 2011-12 led to establishing the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program in 2013.

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Education

How Boys Are Disadvantaged as Pandemic Locks The Poor From Learning

The private sector has been offering opportunities to students to continue studies by offering scholarships for secondary school education. These scholarships are however highly competitive, and the average student misses out on these opportunities as these scholarships target learners who score exceptionally well in exams.

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Harrison Wanguku delivers some art pieces to a customer in Kiambu, Kenya, on behalf of his teenage son John Karuga/IMANI BAHA

By MERCY GAKII, @Gakiiz

It was a typical weekday when just about everyone is at work, children are in school and business owners busy trading their wares.

This writer, while taking a random walk and a break from the computer, was strolling in the neighborhood. A young lad passed by very fast while carrying some impressive pieces of art.

I ran after him and asked if he is selling the pieces. He agreed in the affirmative and quickly I took two pieces for $5 (Ksh500). But the boy was looking quite anxious and was hurrying off somewhere. Curiously I asked how old he is.

“17 years old,” he responded shyly. Why was he not in school? I quickly learned that he lives with his parents in Gachie, a small satellite town outside Nairobi, half an hour’s walk across the ridge from where he was hawking his art. “My parents have no money to take me to school, so I help my father in the workshop to make these art pieces,” he said in response to why he was hawking on a school day.

The Kenyan government, keen to see every child does not miss classes, has waived tuition fees for learners, highly subsidizing expenses leaving a minimal payment for parents to settle. For 17 year old John Karuga, the tuition fees was a total $100 for the whole year. He however had a tuition balance of $65 (Ksh6500/-) hence he could not resume learning when schools reopened in January.

Covid19 hit his father’s business, destroying his only source of livelihood. His family was hounded out of the small rental house that they were living in after rent arrears piled for months. It took the kindness of neighbor to host the large family.

The 2020 school year was coming to a close in only a week or so, and the next school year, 2021, would begin only 10 days later. It was troubling that this boy could still miss school.

According to a 2020 report by International Labour Organisation, three-quarters (73%) of the young people who were either studying or combining study and work before the onset of the crisis were able to transition into online and distance learning, with one in eight young people (13%) without any access to teaching or training; a situation particularly acute among youth in lower-income countries.

Karuga never had any classroom interaction since March 2020 when schools were shut countrywide. The first born in a family of five children has been helping his parents fend for the family, resorted to doing menial jobs which included learning the skill of artwork and hawking. He is able to make one piece of the art in two days.

“I like being in school, but I don’t know how I will ever go back,” the desperate teenager said, before friends of the writer rallied to help offset his tuition arrears. He had no hope for his studies.

When schools reopened in January 2021, 16% of girls and 8% of boys did not return to school according to a report released by Population Council Kenya in July 2021 titled “Promises to Keep: Impact of Covid19 on adolescents In Kenya”. The teen artist Karuga was among the 8%.

The report further indicates that school closure in 2020 was a major interruption to adolescents, with a number reporting they were worried about school fees, repeating classes, getting infected with COVID-19 at school and completing school.

“It affected their mental health in different ways and was expressed as stress, anxiety, depression, worry, shame, embarrassment, isolation, desperation, frustration, sadness, low self- esteem, and stigma,” the report continues. While 27% of boys reported depressive symptoms, 31% of girls recorded similar symptoms.

Proportion of adolescents reporting personal experiences of emotional, physical,and sexual Violence (Percentages June-August 2020, Feb 2021)

Sizeable proportions of boys (52%) and girls (39%) reported experiencing physical violence during the pandemic, and about half of all adolescents said they had experienced symptoms of depression and 75% reported skipping meals when their families could not afford food. This translates to approximately 250,000 girls and 125,000 boys not re-enrolling in school.

Education expert consultant Benson Wesonga observes that the boy-child is highly disadvantaged when it comes to opportunities and the need for protection from life’s hardships.

“At times, parents and caregivers assume that a boy should survive on his own so he is quickly pushed to the harsh world when things are tough,” he added that due to the lack of programs that look out for boys’ needs, they are prone to more neglect when things are tough.

This is expected to reflect negatively on their quality of learning due to their absenteeism during learning, and they will be lagging in schoolwork compared to those who resumed classes. This would mean spending extra money for tuition, which could be hard due to the fact that they missed school due to financial constraints.

Daniel Wesonga, an Education Expert during the interview in Nairobi on July 23, 2021/MERCY GAKII

“Many of these disadvantages are common in arid areas, the informal and low income settlements and areas with high populations where resources are strained,” Wesonga adds. The boy child is more likely to be given menial jobs, corroborating the Population Council report that due to job opportunities, a number of boys opted not to resume studies when schools reopened in January 2021.

Based on the projections from the 2019 census, the study estimated that 270,350 girls and 137,113 boys who were in school in March 2020 had not returned by February 2021. Lack of school fees was cited as the major reason among 47% of girls and 21% of boys. The other key reasons among girls were pregnancy (10%) and early marriages (5%), while a few in Wajir (3%) did not see the point of returning to school. Amongst adolescent boys, access to job opportunities was a key reason for opting out of school.

This in turns means that boys are likely to slow down the nation’s journey towards achieving the Vision 2030’s Sustainable Development Goal number 4, which is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

“In addressing gender equity, we should not exclude the boys. This is the missing gap, because gender inclusivity should address both boys and girls,” Wesonga opines.

When Karuga’s father took him back to school on the opening day of the new school year, he was fighting back tears. He had almost given up on his first born son. Well-wishers have pledged to support the boy’s studies through high school. However, Wesonga wonders if such ad hoc measures as fundraising for such a case using social support from private citizens is sustainable.

“How many other children are out there engaged in child labour? The government still needs to increase its support to poor parents to enable children learn,” he concludes.

The private sector has been offering opportunities to students to continue studies by offering scholarships for secondary school education. These scholarships are however highly competitive, and the average student misses out on these opportunities as these scholarships target learners who score exceptionally well in exams. These scholarships, offered by banking institutions and other corporate bodies need to widen the opportunities to reach more learners who are in sub-county day schools such as where Karuga goes to school.

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