Funding boost to science, technology and innovation

The African Development Bank, or AfDB, has approved US$47 million to support efforts to improve the quality and relevance of science, technology and innovation, or STI, training in Kenya's higher education sector.

The money will help the country to produce high-calibre professionals in the STI field, with part of it going towards equipping laboratories and workshops in tertiary institutions.

The project will benefit some 11,000 students enrolled in target facilities, as well as some 500 teachers to be trained to masters level and 200 who will receive PhD training.

The Support to the Enhancement of Quality and Relevance in Higher Education, Science and Technology Project is in line with Kenya's Vision 2030, which focuses on STI to improve the country's competitiveness.

According to documents released by the bank and seen by University World News, the project will target six university constituent colleges and two universities whose core mandate is STI, to help them produce more and better qualified engineers, including women.

The money will also help to enhance the training of postgraduate students in the field of applied sciences and to upgrade the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies, in order to improve training in environmental and natural resources management.

The bulk of the cash will go towards training more lecturers for middle-level technical colleges to masters level, and to equip the colleges’ engineering workshops and science laboratories.

The bank documents indicate that Kenya faces a severe shortage of well-trained personnel in engineering and applied sciences, which it reckons could hinder Kenya’s desire to attain middle-income status by 2030.

“Higher education, seen as a means of enabling growth and economic competitiveness, is also a tool for poverty reduction by creating relevant knowledge and skills for employment and entrepreneurship,” the AfDB document said.

“Youth comprise 60% of Kenya’s 39 million people, and unemployment stands at 40%, partly attributed to a mismatch in training and labour market needs.

“The project will contribute to strengthening the teaching and learning environment for engineering programmes and also complement government of Kenya investments in constructing new engineering laboratories and workshops in target institutions that have minimal equipment,” the document added.