“The story of The Co-operative University of Kenya, so rich in growth,can only be told from the eyes of a witness Prof. E.N. Gicheru,currently Director, ICD, Formerly, Director, COCK, Ag. Principal/Founder Member, CUCK, who has seen the institution move from negligible infancy to where it stands today.
The Co-operative University of Kenya as established, sits on a wealth of historical events that culminated to its current steady and vibrant existence. The following are some of the anecdotes that should never be missed in the historical accounts of The Co-operative University of Kenya.
- 1908: The first co-operative in Kenya was founded by the Colonial Government. This was a typical British Co-operative Business Model which sidelined Africans from the mainstream economy. Such state of affairs was to be sustained albeit with slight flexibility during the struggle towards independence.
- As promotion and development of co-operatives took shape, a dire need was identified to establish a co-operative training institution which would help to develop requisite skills for the government inspectors who were supervising co-operatives as well as the personnel of the cooperatives.
- That is how in 1952 the school of cooperation was started at the then Jeans School (now Kenya School of Government) which saw the three East African countries: Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania/Tanganyika establish the school to ensure the uniqueness of the Co-operative Business Model was preserved.
- 1963: Kenya gained independence from the British. There was a felt socio-economic need to adopt the co-operative development strategy in the first development plan of 1963-1987 which saw the enactment of the first co-operative Act Cap 490 of 1966 and subsequent development of the Co-operative College of Kenya as a government institution responsible for promotion of good management practices in co-operatives through the delivery of effective co-operative business education and training. It was one among the first independent Kenya government flagship projects; never expected to fail.
- With the trend of the three countries gaining independence, it became necessary for each to start their own Co-operative Training Institution to support co-operative development.
- And that is how in 1967, the Co-operative College of Kenya was born with 40 students at Allen Road, the present Daystar University Campus next to Kenyatta National Hospital which gave way to the construction of the present Co-operative College located at Ushirika Road, Karen.
- 1970 (June 18th ): The first President of the Republic of Kenya, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta laid a foundation stone of the college as currently evidenced by the foundation stone at the main entrance towards the Nordic Assembly Hall.
- 1971: The College opened doors for the first time (COCK Annual Report, 1972).
- 1972 (June 7th): The first President of the Republic of Kenya, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta inaugurated the college. He officially received the project from the representative of the Nordic government, a development partner, MR. R.K. Andresen (currently evidenced by the inauguration stone at the Main Entrance, towards the Nordic Assembly Hall). The president’s most remarkable statement was, “ education and training are the surest road to overall efficiency in the business activities of the co-operative movement’’ ( COCK Annual Report, 1972)
- 1974: The principal reports that, “the tempo of the growth of the college was on the upward trend” ( COCK Annual Report, 1974)
- 1978: College facilities were expanded to cope with rising demand for co-operative business education and training ( COCK Annual Report, 1978)
- 1979: The college was able to host three diploma courses; the highest most esteemed college education level ( COCK Annual Report, 1979)( COCK Annual Report, 1974)
- 1980: Construction works began in 1978 and were completed in 1980 ( COCK Annual Report, 1980)
- 1982: Performance in all college courses was recorded as satisfactory and encouraging with very low failure rates ( COCK Annual Report, 1982)
- 1983: The mission of the college was defined and stated as, “ a national training institute involved in the training personnel of co-operative societies and unions as well as middle cadre government officers who help in supervision of activities of the movement on behalf of the Ministry of Co-operative Development ( COCK Annual Report, 1983)
- 1984: During its colorful graduation ceremony, the Minister for Co-operative Development, Hon H.K. Kosgey emphasized that Sessional papers No. 8 of 1970, and No.14 of 1975, identified co-operative education and training as the surest means of achieving efficiency in business operations of co-operative organizations ( COCK Annual Report, 1984)
- 1986: Co-operative college objectives were better drafted: offering tailor-made co-operative courses, serving as a national conference Centre for the co-operative sector, developing curriculum for courses based on field research and evaluations, running distance education programmes for staff and management officials of the co-operative movement and developing co-operative education materials ( COCK Annual Report, 1986)
- 1990: The Directorate of PersonnelManagement (DPM) college staff establishment was 41 lecturers, but 17 vacancies were open. The Ministry of Co-operative Development continued to second lecturing staff to curb shortages (COCK Annual Report, 1990).
- 1994: Aims and objectives of the college were reemphasized and college facilities enhanced to accommodate up to 240 students ( COCK Annual Report, 1994)
- 1995: The Kenya parliament enacts Cap 490A, to establish the college as a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal. The Act was further revised and operationalized on 1st July, 1998. At this point those members of staff who wished to return to the Ministry of Co-operatives were given an opportunity to do so. Those who remained became the college staff.
- 2004: We completed the ‘Old CRCC to meet the accommodation needs of senior personnel of the co-operative movement who attended our short courses.
- 2005: The College launched its first degree programme, the Bachelor of Co-operative Business in collaboration with Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (College prospectus,2005)
- 2006: we completed the CRCC project. It was to cater for increased demand by our clients. I can’t forget that one day when a Board Member of a cooperative in Meru told me (Prof. Gicheru); “you cannot continue subjecting us to sleeping on double decker beds and below the top bed is either my son or grandson’’. And that was the motivation to come up with separate facilities for the co-operative movement personnel.
- 2011: The College through an Act of parliament is established as “The Co-operative University College of Kenya” and subsequently became the Constituent University College of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.
- 2012: The University College admitted Universities’ Joint Admission Board (JAB) students for the first time with its two foundational degree programmes: The Bachelor of Co-operative Business and the Bachelor of Commerce.
- 2016 (October 7th) : The University College is awarded her Charter by the fourth President of the Republic of Kenya, His Excellency, Uhuru Kenyatta; coincidentally the son of the first president, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta who laid the foundation stone for the college establishment. It became The Co-operative University of Kenya and the first one of its own kind.
- 2016 (November, 18th): The Co-operative University of Kenya holds her first graduation ceremony and celebrates her first birth day.
In conclusion, The Co-operative University of Kenya is the story of a mother consistently striving to plough her land better and sow a variety of good seeds,each season and time so as to feed her children and grandchildren with enhanced nutritious meals for sustained energy and good health. She has been a restless mother who has always worked to achieve excellent results to that end.