By Lillian Wamuyu
As an educationalist, a businessman and the founder of Mount Kenya University, Prof. Simon Gicharu wears different hats but with no doubt, his contribution in the education sector has propelled his profile high both in the public and private sectors. The MKU dream is one of the ventures that he takes pride in and according to him, the satisfaction is derived from the impact that the institution is having on peoples’ lives at the personal and society levels.
With ever green prospects for expansion and growth, MKU currently has 11 campuses spread out across the larger Eastern region with presence in Kenya, Rwanda and Somalia. The main campus is situated in Thika with subsequent campuses in all major towns in Nairobi, Nakuru, Eldoret, Kitale, Kakamega, Kisii, Mombasa, and Nkubu. The establishment of Kigali and Hargeisa campuses which have recorded commendable performance in terms of students’ enrolment, present a need and opportunity for expansion to other cities in East, Central and Southern Africa countries. In addition, the ODel hub provides a platform for online studies and e-learning thus creating the bulk of the MKU Digital Varsity.
MKU CELEBRATES FULL ACCREDITATION OF THE SCHOOL OF LAW BY COUNCIL OF LEGAL EDUCATION
The University held a luncheon to celebrate the School of Law full accreditation status which marks a great milestone in a journey that started in 2009 when the school was established. The campus then started with only 30 students and 3 members of staff but to date the school has graduated 30 lawyers, has about 1000 students and the number of staff stands at over 30 qualified staff and non-teaching staff.
The School of Lawreceived full accreditation status on 30th July, 2018 following an inspection by CLE on 30th May, 2018. Worth noting is that the school received 84% which is the highest mark to be achieved by any other accredited school in the country. The school has been operating on an interim license and now with the approval and accreditation by the Council of Legal Education (CLE), the institution is fully equipped to offer law degree courses.
In her opening remarks, Ms. Wamaitha who is the Director MKU Parklands Law Campus noted with optimism that the new phase of the journey presents new horizon for growth and expansion. She acknowledged the presence of different partners, stakeholders, and friends who had been part of the journey directly or in directly. This included the MKU Board of Directors led by Prof. Gicharu, University management, University Council, MKU students, representatives from the Law Society of Kenya, Judiciary, County, and National government, and NGOsamong others.
“The journey was accomplished amidst many challenges, obstacles, and disappointments.Those challenges and obstacles were opportunity for growth and as a result we have become better people and a better institution because instead of concentrating on the problem we took the chance to get more resources and as a result we have become the leading law school in Africa and beyond. We have an ultra-modern library equipped with rich print and e-learning resources. Because of that journey, we have an ICC model moot court which has helped our student to learn advocacy skills.Had we not been given pressure by CLE we would still be in CBD sharing facilities with other education providers but we have a whole building solely for legal education,” narrated Ms. Wamaitha
The accreditation followed a vigorous inspection process by CLE to establish that the institution complies with established criteria and standards for any legal institution allowed to offer law courses in the country. This included inspection by the Commission for University Education (CUE) which approved the Parklands Law Campus as a legal education institution that meet the standard of a law campus. Following the accreditation, the school of law is expected to develop and enhance a research platform and encourage students and staff to contribute in their legal research niche area.
Speaking during the event, Prof. Gicharu, the Founder of MKU narrated the journey that has takenclose to a decade and which has been marked with many challenges and hurdles.
“The journey has not been easy. When I bought a building in Nairobi along Moi Avenue I thought I now had everything for the school to be accredited, I was wrong. CLE insisted that the building was not conducive for law students and we had to move to Parklands. So, we moved to join the other school of law in the area,”recalled Prof. Gicharu.
“We are doing the best we can to ensure that students get an opportunity to learn in Kenya and therefore no need to go to Uganda and India to study law. We will continue to scout for new opportunities for growth within the country and in the region to ensure our students can access affordable and quality education”, said Prof. Gicharu.
Prof. Gicharu took the opportunity to congratulate the students who represented the varsity in the just concluded Kenya National Music Festival which were held at the Dedan Kimathi University, Nyeri County. The team gave a stellar performance in the universities categories and emerged the overall 2018 winners in most items thus retaining the winners’ position which they clinched in 2017.
The chief guest during the luncheon, Prof. Lumumba spoke on ‘The Role of Law School in developing countries in training legal practitioners in support of sustainable development and democracy’. He urged students to take full advantage of emerging areas of legal practice such as East African Law. He further emphasized the need for young lawyers to create a niche of practice for themselves and work towards building their expertise around that subject area.
“We need to look at these new fields and diversify law as it is no longer what it used to be; where you are a jerk of all trades and a master of none,” noted Prof. Lumumba
Also present was Senior Counsel Fred Ngatia who gave a talk on ‘Navigating the Contours of Legal Profession’. He advised young lawyers to keep abreast with new trends in the technological field and innovation as this will have an impact on modern law practice. Mr. Ngatia further counselled law students to be agents of positive change in addressing the myriads of challenges facing the country.
INSERT Mr. Ngatia’s speech
The event was graced by key personalities and MKU partners and stakeholders drawn from the government, diplomatic core, academia, media, and legal fraternity among others. Some notable attendees included: Prof. Waudo Stanley- Vice Chancellor MKU, Dr. Bibianne Waiganjo-Deputy Vice Chancellor, Prof. Tushar Saha- Dean, School of Law, Ms Nelly Wamaitha-Director MKU Parklands Law Campus, Hon. Moses Cheboi- Deputy Speaker, National Assembly, Dr. James Nyoro- Deputy Governor, Kiambu County, Amb. James Kimonyo- Rwanda’s Ambassador to Kenya, Thomas Thuku- Chairman, Special Purpose Legal and Endorsement Committee of Legal Counsel, and renowned Constitutional Expert, and Prof. Yash Pal Ghai among others.
So far, the school has graduated over 800 students with alumni working in all parts of the country including politics, cooperates, private practice, NGOs among others. “We are proud of them because they have become good ambassadors. They have proved that for us education is also about molding their character,” said Ms. Wamaitha in her closing remarks.
MKU, School of Law joins other institutions with full accreditation such as the University of Nairobi, Egerton University, Nazarene University, Riara University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Strathmore University, Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Daystar University, and Kenyatta University.
Thika Main Campus
The journey in years
2009: MKU, School of Law is established.
2011: The school receives provisional accreditation by the Council of Legal Education.
2015: Parklands Law Campus is inspected and approved by the Commission for University Education.
2018: MKU, School of Law receives full accreditation by the Council of Legal Education.