The Open Governance Institute (OGI) early this week signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the University of Eldoret (UOE) that seeks to foster collaborations and partnerships in areas of governance, policy and budget research, promotion of capacity development of the parties and its target stakeholders and support offering of technical short courses that strengthen governance systems and processes towards community transformation and prosperity. The partnership also seeks to support dissemination of research findings, knowledge sharing among governance practitioners, researchers and civil society.
Speaking during the MOU signing ceremony, the Executive Director of Open Governance Institute, Mr. Timothy Kiprono louded the partnership and collaboration as strategic intervention to meet growing need for new knowledge and innovation to tackle challenges facing communities. “This partnership comes at a time when the role of Universities in generating new knowledge, alternative policy ideas and connecting research to public affairs is paramount. The University has a mandate to nurture and produce highly knowledgeable members of the society who should not only have sufficient capacity to create wealth for themselves, but also to help their communities to meaningfully engage in the promotion of self-governance, said Mr. Kiprono.
The collaboration is an epitome of how partnerships and collaborations between local Universities and the civil society organizations lead to the possible emergence of various solutions to local problems. Mr. Kiprono further highlighted that however the role of the University in preparing a secure landing space and contributing to an expansion of the job market is limited, and although there are thousands of graduates every year that enter the job market and rejoin their communities, these resources remain untapped.
While signing the MOU, the University of Eldoret Vice Chancellor, Prof. Teresa A. O. Akenga said the MOU and envisaged collaboration and partnership will promote efforts that strengthen the voice of Wanjiku in following up her taxes. She said, Wanjiku desires proper implementation of policies, utilization of her hard-earned taxes and adoption of governance processes that yield outcomes that advance her interest, and that the University and the academic community in general must support Wanjiku to realize her Constitutional dreams and aspirations through research, impact assessment and shaping of public policy priorities.
These sentiments were echoed by Dr. Brian Wampler, a professor of Global Studies and Political Science at Boise State University who said, “Although Universities produce a lot of knowledge through research, there is a disconnect between practitioners and the resources at the University.” He also cited the limited platforms and opportunities that support the transfer of knowledge to convert theory into practical ideas for community transformation.
The MOU firmed up and formalized collaborative research work that the two institutions are currently implementing. Through financial support from the International Center for Tax and Development (ICTD) and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), OGI and its academic partners from the University of Miami and Boise State University are implementing a research project that seeks to establish the impact of public participation on taxation at the County level in Kenya. The research project covers six counties and will be increased to eight counties through this partnership and collaboration with the University of Eldoret. The study will cover Uasin Gishu, Baringo, Nairobi, Makueni, Machakos, Elgeyo Marakwet, Mombasa and Trans Nzoia.
To further actualize the MOU, the Vice Chancellor committed to promote transparency and accountability in the management of the University’s budget as a demonstration of leadership in strengthening Wanjiku’s voice. She requested OGI to train the University students’ Council on planning and budgeting and how to prioritize critical issues when developing their budget as initial steps for the University to adopt a participatory approach in the planning and budgeting in the University over the long-term.