6th February 2019,

The signing of a memorandum of understanding between the County Government of Siaya and The Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology earlier today for the establishment of President Barack Obama University College here in Siaya is indeed a fulfilment of the desire of the people of Siaya to have an additional University within the County. This desire was underscored by the realization of the paucity of university institutions in the county. The only university level institution that currently exists is not able to meet existing demand by learners and needs of the County and its neighbours.

Addressing Siaya residents at the proposed university grounds currently The Siaya Agricultural Training Centre, Siaya Governor His Excellency Cornel Rasanga noted that the Siaya people have supported the University idea from the onset due to the associated benefits that will accrue from the its establishment. Apart from the increased economic activities to serve the expected high number of student population, various employment opportunities for locals will definitely accrue from the establishment of the university college. 

The University College is also expected to train higher level human resource persons for Siaya County and beyond. The other benefits of the institution to the local population will include spearheading researches on agricultural and fisheries development, promotion of extension services to our local farmers and the strengthening of the current programs being carried out by the Agricultural Training Centre according to Siaya Governor. The establishment of the university college is meant to strengthen the Siaya Agriculture Training Centre and not kill it. 

In harnessing the expected business opportunities that will accrue from this university college initiative, the Governor implored the local branch of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry to mobilize investments in the areas of hostels and all other sectors that will spur economic growth within the county. 

The Governor also noted that institutions of higher learning have led to the emergence of major urban centres worldwide. Bondo town, Kakamega town and Kisii town just to mention but a few have largely developed due to the establishment of universities in these towns and as a result of the increased populations associated with academic tourism. The proposed university college is expected to spur economic and social growth of Siaya town tremendously. 

The Governor also reported in his speech that, already, his government is discussing a memorandum of understanding with The Florida Agricultural Mechanical University of the United States of America. The proposed partnership is geared towards supporting a learning exchange program that will see identified students’ study in Kenya for two years and in the USA for another two years as part of a four-year program. Siaya will also benefit from research, extension and rural development and a soil laboratory support from this partnership with the Florida University. The proposed University college will definitely benefit.

“Another partnership is already initiated with Prairie View Agricultural & Mechanical University in the State of Texas, United States of America who have programs on food production similar to the ones that we will be initiating in the upcoming University College,” noted Governor Rasanga. In fact, Dr. Ruth Simmons, the President of Prairie University, is set to lead a delegation of scholars and administrators from the University to Siaya County in May 2019 to sign a memorandum of understanding on a future working arrangement. 

The Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology (JOOUST) Vice Chancellor Prof. Stephen Agong’ in his speech lauded the County Government of Siaya and other stakeholders for their support in actualizing the university dream while urging all and sundry to register for causes upon the launch of academic programs later in the year. He intimated that JOOUST will shortly invite the Commission for University Education to conduct an institutional audit and provide approvals for the launch of academic programs. The university will concentrate in agriculture and business-related causes at the initial stages before venturing into the other physical, social and biological sciences. JOOUST has agreed to transfer its school of agriculture to the proposed university college upon the Commission for Higher Education approval according to Prof. Agong’. 

Present at the signing ceremony were two deputy vice chancellors from the Jaramogi University, county executive committee members from the county government, key education stakeholders drawn from across the county and members of the public from Siaya and beyond. 


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