REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, WILLIAM RUTO, DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA DURING THE OPENING OF THE SCIENCE CENTRE AT THE UNITED STATES INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY, NAIROBI ON 12TH MARCH, 2015.
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am pleased to be here today for the opening of the USIU-Africa Science Centre.
A few years ago when I was Minister for Higher Education I politely suggested that we should allocate more resources and train our focus into Science, Technology, and Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programmes.
As they say the rest is history.
I want to applaud the leadership of this university; today is a great day not only for this community but also for the country in our pursuit of prosperity and advancement.
It embellishes the occasion to see that the private sector is willing to put money behind STEM programmes, this is undoubtedly the way to go.
The difference between the biggest economies in the world and ours is simple: science and technology. They have more of it and we do not have enough. China, America, Japan, and South Korea dominate the world because they manipulate science and technology like no else.
In fact these countries are in constant competition with one another to see who can teach maths and science better and more innovatively than the other.
The place of science in the world is unquestionable: Science creates; science innovates and eventually elevates society.
Infrastructure is great but the most potent thing we can add to our economy is innovation and we cannot do that without a sound knowledge base particularly in science, technology, mathematics and engineering.
Knowledge will inform research, research will influence industry, and industry will raise standards, create employment and pass on value and convenience to consumers. It’s the great equalizer.
Moreover, there is nothing that science cannot revolutionize: there is no industry, no sector, and no genre immune to the influence of innovation: from agriculture, to media, manufacturing, ICT, hospitality, construction, health care, banking, and security-nothing is safe.
We must teach this and future generations that there is a place in the global economy for this country if we are willing to grab it, all we need is new ideas.
We are currently devoting our endeavours in a socioeconomic transformation project.
This project is aimed at radiating the benefits of development and opportunity to all people in all parts of the country.
Scientific research and technological innovation are the heart and soul of this transformation.
For us as a Nation and Government, therefore, growth and development in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics enhances our strength and capacity to achieve and exceed our transformational goals.
Every step we take in boosting our science and technology potential goes a long way to improve Kenya’s regional and global competitiveness.
Innovation and research in science and technology creates opportunities where Government and the private sector can collaborate and mutually benefit. Our interests in the STEM sector complement each other and leads to the sort of partnership that can take a people forward into a new age of improved opportunity, better public services and more wealth.
We need as a country to work within every collaborative framework in the public and private sector and ensure that the numbers and quality of personnel we develop speak to our stated ambitions.
We must develop sufficient talent to support public service and private sector needs. In short, we need more graduates, and we need high-quality graduates to take up available opportunities.
The Government has developed attractive incentives and facilities to support investments, which promise opportunities for our graduates.
I am proud to declare that the quality of our young workforce is one of our country’s key attractions as an investment destination.
We are working hard to ensure that graduates find employment, and that industry meets its skilled labour requirements.
It is important for institutions to push the quality of training farther in order for us to maintain our position as a leader in Education, Research and Innovation. That is why the inauguration of this facility is an important milestone deserving commendation.
The Government has invested immensely in the radical transformation of health services. We are equipping and upgrading health facilities throughout the country.
We want Kenyans to start enjoying healthcare of the best quality at their counties. Quality healthcare relies on effective administration of therapies. Adequate drugs of the best quality are indispensable. Without pharmaceutical professionals of the highest calibre, quality healthcare is not possible.
This expansion and transformation in the health sector therefore creates enormous opportunities for pharmacists in both the public and private sectors.
I commend this University’s intention to commence offering Bachelor of Pharmacy from May this year. Without a doubt, you will contribute to healthcare development in Kenya by training health professionals of great impact.
I encourage our institutions of higher learning to offer a fine example to its students and industry. You must demonstrate leadership and professionalism in order to develop industry leaders and excellent professionals.
You must teach imaginatively if you are going to mentor innovators. At all times, our universities must persistently work to improve the quality of education.
For our economy to stay competitive, we have no choice but to work hard in enhancing the competitiveness of our higher education.
We have no choice in the matter. That is why we commend efforts like these, which demonstrate potential to radically improve educational competitiveness.
High quality education must become a natural tradition of our universities. High quality education must become a national characteristic.
Our universities and graduates must be trained to remain competitive, innovative and effective in a rapidly evolving industrial, environment. Partnerships between industry and educational institutions are the way to go. Many more private sector players should join GlaxoSmithKline in developing talent that meets the requirements of our economic agenda.