Varsities doomed by lack of research funds, ideas

The normal expectation was that universities were centres where great minds are shaped.

In Summary

• Because of inadequate funding, most universities are turning into halls where students are only being taught theories,  dons said.

• Varsities cannot invest in quality research and innovation to aid the continent solve many of its current and emerging problems.

Low state funding  hampers efforts by universities to contribute meaningfully to national and African development.

Professors, John Akama, vice chancellor Kisii University, Bosire Monari (Meru University Council) and Mary Gitau (visiting don) said funding for research in Kenyan universities was at its all-time low,  reducing output for societal good.

With inadequacies in funding, they said, most universities were quickly turning into halls where students are only being taught theories.

"The normal expectation that universities were meant to be centres where great minds are shaped through scholarly  work.

"But research is not happening now due to lack of cash," Akama said.

He said what the government was giving to universities currently was too meagre to sustain meaningful research.

As a result, he stated, universities cannot invest in quality research and innovation to aid the continent to solve many of its current and emerging problems.

"Universities would only live up to their mandate if they are given the latitude to undertake research, innovation and publishing and offer practical solutions to society's challenges. If this is not done, then they are doomed," Akama said.

They three were was speaking during the launch of Akama's  biography Undeterred, A Rural Boy's Journey to the Pinnacle of Academia at Kisii University.

The book was co-authored by Akama and Joshua Araka, a veteran journalist  working in Kisii County.


Research, added Akama, must be  the hallmark of progressive academics and thus budgetary allocations should be intensive from governments.

The vice chancellors want universities to push for more partnerships with like-minded entities in order to secure more resources for their research and innovation.

Prof Gitau deplored the ebbing spirit of innovation among African university students.

She spoke of a "growing lack of interest in the writing of books by graduates the local universities were churning out".

This, she said, was caused by the growing to addiction to social media.

Monari, who was the chief guest, also challenged university students to shift from their comfort zones if they are to make a mark in the academic world.

"This involves making a deliberate effort to think innovation and look for solutions to problems pressing our nation," he told journalists.

The autobiography is a classic tale set in the rural Mecheo village in Borabu, Nyamira county, where the don grew up in a family suffering  great want.

Akama is depicted as a villager lad determined to go to school, even barefoot and suffering from  jiggers.

All he wanted was to be a force for good and help his parents overcome their  economic challenges as he grew up.

(Edited by V. Graham)

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