KNATCOM partners with varsities to promote the 2030 dream

Kenya News Agency News & Updates February 18, 2024

As the Kenya draws closer to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Kenya National Commission for UNESCO (KNATCOM) has enlisted local varsities to accelerate the Kenya Vision 2030 dream.

KNATCOM has partnered with Moi University and the University of Eldoret to train, equip learners with requisite skills on application development to help find solutions to address local real-life problems in the communities which will at the same time help the country to realize its development goals.

Addressing the Journalists during the final day of a three weeks training of 50 students drawn from the two institutions at Moi University College of Health Science, Eldoret, Uasin Gishu, Prof. Masibo Lumala, the Director for Open and Distance Learning, Moi University, pointed out that the mobile application development training involved 25 students from each university to be trained and come up with new mobile applications that specifically address the problems that are related to the SDGs.

Noting that we are still 6 years from hitting 2030 when every country should have ideally achieved the SDGs, the exercise is very crucial to contribute towards the realization of the sustainable development goals.

“The most important thing for this activity from a university perspective is that it allows the students to transfer the knowledge from the classroom to an actual world where they are solving a real-world problem,” he noted.

He added that through the 3 weeks of training by a team of competent trainers, the students were able to showcase exemplary skills in terms of developing mobile applications that deal with various sustainable development goals.

He reiterated the need to enhance the student’s capacity to develop homegrown applications to solve local problems in society like the Mpesa app.

“Most of us have got mobile phones and the applications that are in those phones, very few are homegrown, I know the one we use every time could be Mpesa which has come from Kenya but others like facebook, Instagram, google, and others many of them do not come from us,” said Prof. Masibo.

This is the second phase of the programme in the region, the first one was the last year 2023, aimed at bringing together students to be able to innovate and to come up with homegrown mobile applications that can also be used globally.

The Director for Open and Distance Learning hinted on bringing on board other universities across the country to join the programme next year, to continue growing the innovation culture and the creativity and nurturing the talents of the students.

“We do know that the government of Kenya is very passionate about technology and we can help leverage on technology to spread the word about sustainable development goals and as well to be able also to solve some of the problems related to the SDGs, including things to do with gender equality, climate change, poverty reduction, how can we use technology for example to improve food production and reducing hunger in this country,” he said.

Prof. Masibo said that the students have also been taken through the intellectual properties, patenting, and copyright to ensure they patent their innovations as soon as the apps are functional and running to prevent others from owning their ideas through infringement of the copyrights.

“Without patenting we would lose these innovative ideas, these students have received knowledge through business modeling, trained in communication and be able to pitch ideas and trained in different aspects including the technical part of it and they can patent their ideas,” he added.

On her part, the Ag. Director for Communication and Information, KNATCOM, Agela Silima Muchai, indicated that they have been working with partners like Moi University to train students in terms of developing applications in fulfillment of the commission’s mandate of ensuring media development to contribute to technology to ensure the country is at par with the advancement of technology globally.

“Media has moved and everybody is now relying on technology and until we can train our young people to ensure that they have the skills to contribute to technology, then we will be left behind,” she noted.

She said the commission is keen to contribute to the digital super highway by training young people and equipping them with skills so that they can be able to come up with innovative technologies.

“Last year we trained 30 students, this year we have scaled up and trained 50. The students have come up with very innovative applications that address real problems related to SDGs. We know that we must ensure that Kenya can meet their part in terms of addressing issues within the SDGs,” added Muchai.

The Ag. The director underscored that their contribution is to ensure that young people have skills to create their employment by coming up with apps to contribute to technology, which by doing so contribute to eliminating problems within society.

“Am very impressed with the apps that students have come up with like the one that can measure the quality of the air we breathe in, that is an app that contributes to climate change, to health, and can solve actual problems within our society. Am excited a lot about this project and looking forward to training more young people and we hope that we will have a pool of innovators that can contribute to technology within our country,” she alluded.

Prof. Wanyama Mkubwa, one of the facilitators from Moi University said that besides training students on applications development to realize the SDGs and solve problems within the communities, they are also trying to bridge the skills gap to make sure the students can be able to create job opportunities for themselves and others in the labour market.

“Our view for this programme does not end here. We are foreseeing that in the days to come, we include more universities to participate so that we can have a large pool of talents that we can be able to nurture and see what we can get out of them,” he said.

He affirmed the need for making the programme a national one to leverage and nurture a pool of young talents that not only help the country achieve its development goals but also develop homegrown solutions to solve local community problems.

He expressed concern that we have relied so much on solutions that come from outside the country which are meant to solve problems within those particular countries or regions of origin and sometimes the solutions do not really match with our demands as Africans.

“It high time we grow our home solutions and then nurture them to a level that we can export them outside. As our president is so clear that he is ready to export skills and labour to the outside countries to create jobs for the young people and this is just the beginning we prepare them, nurture and give them the right skills,” explained Prof. Mkubwa.

He noted that through the training the students can gain skills to do online jobs in programming, and software development which will see them stand a better chance to compete with other youths within the world and the region.

Kimberly Amira trainee student from the University of Eldoret (UoE) laude the government initiative through NATCOM for the opportunity to platform them to be able to make applications towards the realization of the SDGs and at the same time supporting them to move towards innovation and realizing their dreams.

“Our team was able to develop an app which is aiming to achieve the SDG goal of gender equality and also the general oneness of Kenya. It is an app that tackles mental health which is becoming a huge problem, especially in Kenya, for example, according to statistics about 1.9 million people currently are living with or have had depression in their lifetime,” she said.

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