Importance of Education

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The Role of Education in Nation Building – a Canadian Perspective Address to Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology 11/03/10 Kakamega, Western Province Kenya

“There is no higher calling than to be a part of something greater than oneself”

Good morning…jambo sana Executive officers of Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, University Faculty Members, Students, Friends and Colleagues It is a rare privilege for me to be with you today at Musinde Muliro University of Science and Technology. Since 1972 it has been a source of inspiration, a leading light for studies in higher learning. I was very pleased in 2007 to hear that MMUST had received full status as a university in its own right. I commend you for your new program initiatives, research and development projects. I was especially pleased to hear of the success of the recent Health Care Conference on the role of International Collaboration in reducing Maternal-Child Mortality. Today I have the privilege of talking about one of my favourite topics, Canada. I first arrived as a young immigrant from Denmark. In those days people were coming from all over the world, from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa, seeking a better life. Canada was growing and developing as a nation. People brought with them their culture, traditions and values. It was not just about them, it was about a new land, a new life and new found freedom. There was this amazing sense that together we could build a nation. Like most countries Canada came into being at the stroke of a pen. On July 1, 1867 Canada became a self-governing political entity; however, it was far from being a nation. A nation takes time to build, to grow and mature. A country is bound by the fortunes of its history and geography. A nation on the other hand is a living evolving entity that reflects the ideals and dreams of its people and the reality of living together. What makes a country a nation? As I reflect on the Canadian experience I would propose three key elements…time, shared experiences and a collective will to define and build a stronger, richer and more just society. Even today, after 142 years, Canadians continue to ask the question, “What do we stand for, what are our values and what kind of nation are we seeking to build?”

Canadians value diversity and show respect for each other’s traditions. They are patriotic and love their country. They seek a strong economy and are proud of their place in the world. Canadians want a society where people of different languages, faiths and traditions can reconcile their differences and work together. But it was not always so. Imagine a land thirty-six times the size of Kenya, so harsh that early settlers perished as they faced their first winter; and so abundant that explorers like Samuel de Champlain reported there were so many fish in the St Laurence River that he could walk on water. Try to picture a place so vast, surrounded by three oceans, containing six million lakes, with glaciers and snow capped mountains where the highest peak rises over 19,000 ft above sea level. Envision a climate where four distinct seasons rule over immense stretches of grasslands, open wilderness and maritime coastal waterways. That land is Canada. 400 years ago the English and French first met Aboriginal peoples who for centuries had established their own tribal customs and traditions. Today Canada embraces full diversity where the nations of the world have come to its borders. Its largest city Toronto is home to 4 million people where 400 languages and 600 dialects are spoken. It stands as a model to the world - a diverse community, living together in peace, respecting the rights and freedoms of citizens to live within the bounds of the law. Canada stands tall and is respected around the world for its peace keeping missions and its role in promoting human rights. Canada has made significant contributions globally by sharing its vast natural resources,...
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