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Kenya partners with South Korea to provide high-quality Science and Technology education

By Edith Mutethya in Nairobi, Kenya | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-02-14 03:13

A customer walks past the logo of Commercial Bank of Africa in Nairobi, Kenya, December 7, 2018. [Photo/Agencies]

Kenya has partnered with South Korea, to improve its education in science and technology, in efforts to produce high-skilled engineers and scientists to propel its Vision 2030, the country's blueprint that aims to transform the nation into a newly industrializing, middle income country.

Towards that end, on February 13, 2019, the two countries signed a partnership to establish a graduate only university at Kenya's Konza Technopolis, a technology hub to be built in the country's Machakos County, south of Nairobi on the way to the port city of Mombasa.

The institute which will be dubbed, Kenya Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (Kenya- KAIST) is modelled after the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (Korea- KAIST) whose design model is a research focused university that fosters elite human resources in science and technology vital for the nation.

The Kenya-KAIST institute was conceived to benchmark South Korea's development experience.

Through leveraging on skilled graduates from Korea-KAIST, the East Asian nation achieved remarkable growth, becoming the only country in the world to transform from a recipient to a donor country of international aid.

To date, South Korea is a global leader in the industrial and technological sectors, and the world's seventh largest exporter, according to the World Trade Organization. Its export-driven economy primary focuses on production of electronics, automobiles, ships, machinery, petrochemicals and robotics.

According to Reuben Mutiso, the Chairman, Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA), the adoption of the Korea-KAIST model is deliberate, as the country is looking at building a nurturing environment for graduates not only in Kenya but also in East Africa. This is expected to lead to an innovative growth, rallied by science, in the region.

"A highly-educated nation is paramount to its economic, social and political success. It is therefore, our hope that this new venture will be embraced by the citizens," Mutiso said, during the signing ceremony.

Korea- KAIST has shown its capacity to innovate and spin off successful ventures such as Samsung and LG.

In 2014 Korea- KAIST was ranked third in the Times Higher Education's "100 Under 50" ranking of the world's best universities, less than half a century old. In June 2017, Reuters named it "Asia Pacific's Most Innovative University" for the second year running.

Dr. Sung-Chul Shin, the Korea-KAIST President said the making of well-trained graduates in Science and Technology will contribute to the growth of a knowledge based economy and sustainable innovation growth in Kenya.

"We are proud of this partnership as it holds promise to boost Kenya's growth," he said.

Kenya-KASIT will be constructed within the Phase one (1) A section at Konza which lies on 400 acres of land.

The University will have three faculties whose core programme will include; Mechanical Electrical and ICT engineering, Chemical Civil and Agriculture; engineering/biotechnology and basic science education such as math's and physics.

Kenya-KASIT is expected to generate high-skilled engineers and scientists with both theory and practical knowledge, and to conduct socially relevant research and development (R&D), to improve national competitiveness and transform Kenya into an industrializing middle-income country.

Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Architects & Engineering Co. Ltd and SUNJIN Engineering & Architecture CO. Ltd have been appointed to undertake the architectural design and curriculum design for the University.

Jerome Ochieng, the Principal Secretary for ICT and innovation said, Kenya-KAIST development is a good boost for Kenya, noting that there is need to upgrade skills to meet both traditional and emerging industrial and technical development areas.

Ochieng said despite Kenya being ranked second after South Africa in terms of innovation, there is a growing concern about the country's poor track record on the transfer of technology from the university to the industry and the commercialization of academic research.

"As a country, we rank poorly in the number of registered patents and very few universities have commercial spin-offs that they can identify with. This can be largely attributed to lack of strong technology transfer offices that naturally focus on building strong collaboration between the industry and universities," he said.

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