AIU: Instilling Values and Characters that bring transformation
Over three and a half decades ago in the year 1983 when the Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology was established, it was solely a graduate school of theology training for the African continent. It stood out as one of the oldest degree awarding institutions in Kenya after the university of Nairobi and the International Leadership University. In the year 2011, however, the institution transitioned into a fully-fledged University introducing an assortment of undergraduate and graduate programmes as the Africa International University.
“ As an institution, we kind of started upside down. We started from the top; we are now coming down and are growing the base to be able to be wider than the top where we started,” explained Professor Dankit Nassiuma, the Africa International University (AIU) Vice Chancellor in an interview with the Corporate Watch magazine.
In the year 2010, the Africa International University in its quest to touch lives in accordance with its vision and mission which is; to educate Christ-centred leaders for the transformation of God’s people and the world through innovative programs, research and community engagement established a set of non theological undergraduate and graduate programmes in Business, Psychology, Development studies, Education and Information Technology admitting students from over thirty three countries across the world. With these achievements, the institution has since and consequently been recognized by CUE as offering qualitative and impactful education. Successful completion of a degree program at Africa International University offers a graduant an advantage at a global scale.
“Our transition has been ongoing for the last eight years, and has not been all easy but we also know that all other formal programmes of education started from theology thus we are in tune. The main challenge for us, has been moving from offering education to more mature students to teaching young adults in the undergraduate programmes,” said Professor Nassiuma.
Being a Christian based University, the institution as part of its curriculum offers core foundation courses for its students to help them understand who they are and identify their purpose in life as well as who they want to be in life. Moreover, according to the Vice Chancellor, the institution teaches from a framework of character formation by integrating faith and learning to form character based on ethics and values conducive to personal developments as the students interact with faculty and staff as a family.
“It is not a common thing across universities but, staff and faculty including myself interact with students formally and informally. We mentor and advise our students and help them have a sense of belonging. In that way, they are able to fit within the ethical standards of the institution,” adds the VC.
He noted that the Africa International University has targeted specific areas in the introduction of academic programmes, especially those that directly have an impact on the community and the society at large. Competitive education, social sciences, business, economics and IT courses are the institution’s key offerings. These disciplines, coupled with the advantage of a rich cultural diversity representative of more than 35 nationalities from five continents, is sure recipe to catalyze a ripple effect that will send out Christ centered professionals to every sector of every nation.
“All other universities are trying to train people who can do their work, that is a reality. They are all trying to train people for the professional market, which is understandable but apart from that, we believe that for you to do your work excellently even when you have skills, you need a sense of commitment, character and values to stay on track when you are doing your work,” notes VC Nassiuma who also teaches in the Department of Education at AIU.
On unemployment, the Statistics Professor advises that the failure to implement policies effectively and the obsession with unqualified foreigners employed by the government to effect policies locally has been a great contributor to unemployment in the country. He adds that for the African continent to achieve its full potential, its own people who are renown in the different sectors must be given a chance to showcase their proficiency.
“We have no manpower planning framework in this country, our main undoing is planning for the short term, which is an unfortunate approach to planning,” Professor Nassiuma says.
The institution’s School of Education, Arts and Social Sciences (SEAS) affirms the mission, vision and training philosophy of AIU in its commitment to scholarship, research, teaching, faithfulness to the evangelical faith and tradition, and its desire to produce men and women who can transform the landscape of education in Africa and beyond within a Christian framework. The School currently hosts four departments namely: Education, Psychology, Development Studies and Languages, Linguistics and Translation Studies.
The departments are professionally designed to meet specific market needs and students are intentionally mentored to acquire competencies to fit into the job market, to create jobs and to dynamically transform society.
ISAR, the Institution’s Institute for the Study of African Realities, in line with the AIU’s vision and mission, seeks to listen to diverse African voices to provide an environment for a profound examination of crucial issues that Africa is facing today. ISAR thus exists to bridge any existing gap between Christian academia and communities. In this regard, it continues to make efforts to synthesize “real-world” solutions that promote justice and peace in societies.
Looking in to the future, AIU targets to set up additional academic programmes in Health Sciences, Nutrition and dietetics. These programmes according to the VC are in tandem with the institutions core values, mission and vision. In the same spirit, the institution is also in the process of establishing Governance, law, ethics and Justice programme.
Just like any other institution of higher learning, the success of the Africa International University has over the years depended on the collaborations and cooperation among students, faculty, staff as well as external partners such as the government, Alumni, employers of the institution’s graduates as well as friends and well wishers.
As an institution, AIU is currently working hand in hand with the government in offering its academic programmes. Even though there have been lapses, the institution believes there is room for improvement. For instance, the Vice Chancellor urges the government to streamline systems and ensure they work. He also urges that it is important not to politicize issues, especially those of economic issues, development, law and justice as well as education.
Equally, on accreditation, Professor Nassiuma urges the government to lower the costs for accreditations for higher learning institutions to enable them give knowledge to students without straining on the payments for accreditation.
‘We don’t have a problem with approvals, the problem we have is with the governments inability to establish a leveled playing field for all universities to enable us all offer quality education,’ notes the Professor. Notwithstanding, Professor Nassiuma is optimistic that the government will continue to facilitate the development of programmes and those of varsities in the pursuit of quality education that will transform the world.