The history of Garissa University is jammed with continued growth in academic excellence and student enrolment despite the historic Al-Shabaab attack of April 2, 2015. It is interesting how the institution survived the gunshots with a stronger comeback.
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GAU is one of a kind a full-fledged university in the desolated North Eastern region. Here is a brief background.
History of Garissa University Since 2011
Where is Garissa University located? Garissa University College is located at Iftin in Garissa County, North Eastern Kenya; about 370 Kilometers from Nairobi City.
GAU sits within the Ogaden clan which is highly populated by the Somali tribe.
1. Establishment in 2011
Garissa University was opened on August 12th, 2011 through Legal Notice No. 116, the Moi University Act (Cap. 210A), and the Garissa University Order 2011.
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Its establishment was aimed at promoting higher education in the region, which had been historically marginalized.
For the record, GAU is a successor of facilities previously used by Garissa Teachers Training College.
2. Garissa University attack
Garissa University gained international attention in 2015 when it became the site of a horrific terrorist attack.
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The extremist group Al-Shabaab, based in neighbouring Somalia claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.
Gunmen allegedly stormed the university premises at near dawn, leading to a siege that lasted several hours.
The attackers singled out non-Muslim students and executed them. By the end of the siege, 148 people, primarily students, had been killed. This event marked one of Kenya’s deadliest terrorist attacks.
The attack drew international condemnation and led to a bolstered security response in Kenya.
It also had profound effects on the education sector in northeastern Kenya, with many students fearful of attending institutions in the region.
3. Reopening Garissa University in Jan 2016
Garissa University which was temporarily closed in April 2015 was reopened in January 2016.
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The government and university administrators, with the support of various stakeholders, have since implemented various measures to boost security and reassure students and staff.
4. Award of charter in 2017
On October 23, 2017, President Uhuru upgraded Garissa University College into a full-fledged varsity.
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Administrators include the Vice-Chancellor Prof. Ahmed Warfa and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Principal Prof. Nganga Stephen Irura.
5. Student enrolment and growth
Since its reopening, the institution has made strides to advance academic offerings and continue its role as a beacon of hope and progress in the region.
The university has various programs across different fields, striving to meet the educational needs of the northeastern Kenyan population. The current enrolment at GAU is about 5,000.
6. Garissa University vision and mission
GAU vision is to be a world class University of Technological processes and development.
On the other hand, the mission is to nurture talent through research, innovation, consultancy, community outreach, entrepreneurship, imparting knowledge and skills to meet the needs of society.
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The resilience shown by the institution and its community after the 2015 attack is a testament to the human spirit’s indomitable nature.