Up Close and Candid with Prof Douglas Shitanda – Principal, Co-operative University College of Kenya
I am Professor Douglas Shitanda; A professor of Processing Engineering, JKUAT. Currently Prof. Shitanda, is the Principal of The Co-operative University College of Kenya, a position he has held since April 2014.
What is the potential of The Co-operative University College of Kenya in the achievement of Kenya’s vision 2030?
CUCK is a powerhouse towards achievement of the Kenya’s vision 2030. Ours is a unique niche of Co-operatives which is a key driver of the Kenyan economy. We train high caliber of manpower so much needed to run the multi-billion sector the co-operative is in Kenya and for record, Kenya’s co-operative sector remains unrivalled in Africa and 7th best Globally. In a nutshell, co-operative sector is the driving force towards poverty alleviation leading to a globally competitive and prosperous Kenya.
Kenya is ranked the best in Africa in terms of the Co-operative Business Model and 7th best in the World. Do you think credit needs to come to The Co-operative University College of Kenya?
To a large extent! Recall that since 1952, we have trained for the co-operative movement not only in Kenya but also several Nation States of Africa including South Africa, Rwanda, Lesotho, Ethiopia, and Nigeria among others. Without prudent management, how can a sector so vibrant, productive and gigantic be? Further, we should also note that the co-operative movement operates under several principles which make the movement cohesive. In our training at CUCK, quality has been our hallmark and we live to that. Further, we have been involved in research and most of the co-operative riddles have been undone by CUCK! So, yes, we are key players in the success with of course other stakeholders in the sector.
Co-operatives are now a devolved function; how is the University College aligning itself to build capacity at the grassroots’ level for continuity of this function to Counties?
We have taken the University College to the Counties; already, we have entered into Memorandums of Understanding with several County Governments in Kenya. This is however, a continuous process and we hope to work with virtually all County Governments in Kenya. Meru County, Machakos County, Taita Taveta County, are already on board and several others are in course and lots of work is going on currently.
Is CUCK the University of the Future? What are its competitive ends?
First of all, CUCK stands tall in terms of its mandate; to offer Quality Co-Operative Training Research and Consultancy. We are indeed not only the University in the horizons but the University of the Moment. Our competitive edge is majorly on our niche; the co-operatives; the sector touches the heart and soul of almost every Kenyan.
As the CEO of one of the oldest institutions, what are the plans for robust growth in terms of students’ population?
Some few years ago, in fact in 2012 we were less than 1,000 students, currently we are shy of 5,000 students. We are now gearing towards Charter acquisition which will see our numbers almost double. The industry is thirsty of our graduates and the human resource capital we inject into the market. This need itself is our key strength towards numbers. But, quality lingers in our mind most as compared to numbers.
Milestones covered by the University in terms of infrastructural development?
We are almost completing a state-of-the-art lecture theatre with a sitting capacity of 2,000 persons. We have also commenced plans for an ultra-modern Learning Resource Center which will be an iconic research hub in East and Central Africa. It will house among others a library, a conference facility and a pack of other facilities for a modern University.
That Co-operatives are moving the Kenya’s Economy, how can the youths be roped in?
The youth in this Nation are an enormous resource. They need success stories and they themselves are those stories, what is just needed is a little tip of mentorship. At CUK, we have moved a notch higher; for instance, our own students have formed the first ever in Kenya, a Sacco Society managed, and run and owned by students themselves. This is meant to be a replica after their schooling here.
What is the future of Co-operatives in Kenya?
Very bright! It will make Kenya a rising and a shining star! Already this is the best movement in Africa and 7th best in the World! With over 19,000 registered co-operatives and the number is moving up, is an upbeat path towards a bright future.
What’s in store for Co-operative University College on of Charter award?
We will roll out more degree programmes and post graduate studies will take root.
CUCK remains an epicenter for Quality Education, Training and a Research Hub. We remain open to partnerships not only because that is direction the Business World is moving but also because one of the Principles of co-operatives is co-operation among co-operators. I can tell you CUCK is a great deal both for the co-operative sector and higher education in Kenya
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