University interventions during Covid-19 period and re-opening plan
It is now close to four (4) months since the closure of Universities and Tertiary Institutions by the Government of Kenya in order to contain the spread of COVID-19 disease.
The disease has created a crisis of unprecedented nature whose effects have resulted in a chain of events. The University response to the crisis has confirmed how extraordinary Mount Kenya University is; thanks to all of you. In the face of such adversity, we have demonstrated that it is possible to enhance business continuity by leveraging on our technological prowess and our work culture of teamwork, discipline and flexibility.
During this period, the University staff fraternity under the leadership of the Board of Directors and the University Council innovated ways of offering essential services online, notably transitioning regular students to the E-learning platform to continue with their studies. This was further complemented by the recording of televised lectures that are aired on TV 47, an affiliate of Mount Kenya University.
The ingenuity of our staff at innovations that could help prevent the loss of lives and the spread of COVID-19 and also fight hunger and food waste amidst the pandemic has been evident during this period. Remarkable innovations such as ‘KoviTrace’ that provide access to all the persons that a COVID – 19 patient came into close contact within the last 14 days, the ‘Solar Domestic Food Dryer’ that fights food insecurity during this hard financial times and the development of hand sanitizers by MKU members of staff have all enhanced the image and brand of the University.
I am happy that University researchers have continued to implement their research projects while observing government guidelines on COVID-19 Pandemic. New grants have been received by members of staff in addition to previously funded grants. Examples of new grants include SATREPS from JICA (KSh.450 million), ACCESS from DAAD (Ksh. 25 million) and EDCTP from European Union (Ksh. 17 million). The University has also received KSh. 16 million as the 2nd research grant disbursement from National Research Fund.
I am also glad to inform you that following the Presidential directive to the Ministry of Education on the reopening institutions of learning, stakeholders resolved the re-opening of Universities for face-to-face sessions to be considered on a case-by-case basis based on approved compliance with the Ministry of Health COVID-19 protocols. In view of this, the University has set out a reopening plan and is implementing all the strategies to ensure the re-opening of the institution is as per the University proposed academic calendar, September- December, 2020 for both face-to-face and e-Learning modes of delivery.
Meanwhile, online teaching for the May- August, 2020 semester is in progress and online examinations for the January-April, 2020 semester/ trimester are scheduled to commence on 13th July, 2020 in a phased approach. Training has been conducted to both staff and students on the administration of online examinations. In addition to orientation, further training is scheduled for new Government- sponsored and self-sponsored students on the online platforms ahead of the commencement of teaching and learning in September – December, 2020 semester / trimester.
The University Management unreservedly appreciates the Board of Directors and University Council for successfully steering the University forward as a going concern through these disruptive and difficult times. They have supported infrastructural development in support of academic and research activities. Notably, MKU Convention Centre is taking shape, with major works completed including floor tiling, fixing of windows and window panes, construction of the perimeter walls and the project is expected to be completed by September, 2020. When complete, the MKU Convention Centre, one of its kind in the Republic of Kenya will have a sitting capacity of 2,000 people becoming an icon of conferences and meetings.
It is our hope that as we prepare for the re-opening of the University, staff shall continue to fulfill their duties and responsibilities as assigned while taking the necessary control measures to prevent further transmission and reduce the impact of the outbreak.
Prof. Stanley W. Waudo, Ph.D