MKU first Africa varsity to despatch students to UN attachment

Monday, November 11th, 2019 07:08 |
UN University Volunteers Programme Co-ordinator, Olivier Adam and MKU Acting VC Prof Peter Wanderi during the signing of the MoU. PD/ JAMES WAKAHIU
UN University Volunteers Programme Co-ordinator, Olivier Adam and MKU Acting VC Prof Peter Wanderi during the signing of the MoU. PD/ JAMES WAKAHIU

  By James Wakahiu 

The United Nations and Mount Kenya University (MKU) have signed a morandum of understanding (MoU) that allows MKU students to directly deploy its students as volunteers within the UN system.

UN’s University Volunteer Programme officials led by Executive Co-ordinator, Olivier Adam and the MKU fraternity led by Acting Vice Chancellor, Prof Peter Wanderi signed the deal at the MKU main campus in Thika last week. “MKU will be the first university in Africa to deploy its students as volunteers to the UN,” Adam said. 

Through this partnership, the best and brightest students of MKU will have an opportunity to practice what they learned to support the work of the UN family on the three pillars: Peace and security, Development and Human Rights. They can also work with UN humanitarian agencies. 

Sponsored by the MKU Foundation, every year a selected number of students will serve as UN University Volunteers in Kenya.  Adam said there is a global consensus that the engagement of youth as leaders and active solution finders was key in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. “In Kenya, SDGs have been captured in the Big Four Agenda aimed at tackling food security, affordable housing, manufacturing and health care,” he said. 

He cautioned students that their academic qualifications and enthusiasm are not enough to get them jobs since employers are looking for significant work experience and that even such positions are few.   

The partnership will give students a six months opportunity to be at the epicentre of the UN activities. Currently, 117 Kenyans are serving as UN Volunteers in Kenya and many more outside.  “You can potentially become part of the UN personnel deployed in Kenya to foster the implementation of the SDGs while gaining the professional skills needed to boost you into the next chapter of your lives,” Adam said. 

 “Besides its reputation in academic excellence, MKU has become a beacon of innovative research in promoting development solutions in  this region,” he added. 

 MKU founder and chairman Prof Simon Gicharu said the college would support five students to undertake the volunteer programme for six months at a cost of Sh4 million. “This demonstrates the conviction we have that the UNV programme is good for our students and the university,” he added. 

He challenged MKU managers to seek partnerships and funding from other organisations so that more students can be sponsored to volunteer at UN. 

 Prof Wanderi emphasised the key role of partnerships in promotion of higher education and encouraged students and community at large to participate in volunteerism. “The formalisation of our engagement with UN creates yet another opportunity for our students to gain practical experience,” he added.  

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