STEP-Kenya motivates students at CSAYN forum
On 20 February, the IITA Start Them Early Program (STEP) team from Kenya attended a forum of the Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network (CSAYN) at the University of Nairobi, Upper Kabete campus. The STEP team comprised Lorraine Mutinda, Samuel Kamau, Maryfaith Simiyu, and Stallone Mambo, a student representative from Mwiki Secondary School.
The Principal of the College of Agriculture and Veterinary Science (CAVS) opened the CSAYN forum, which provides a platform for mentorship of secondary school students by agricultural professionals and fellow youth studying agriculture at the university level. Such gatherings help to integrate the student’s classroom knowledge and theory with practical application in office and field settings.
During the meeting, STEP-Kenya was able to recruit, influence, and capture the attention of the youth, university stakeholders, and agricultural professionals from the private sector and the media. It was also an opportunity to create a database of youth who would like to volunteer as STEP mentors and trainers.
Stakeholders discussed the perception of students towards agriculture and highlighted that degree enrolment in agricultural courses has decreased by 25%, from 24,221 students in 2017 to 18,165 in 2018. Most students in these courses were found to lack motivation and had a negative perception regardless of them pursuing the course. Some of the reasons for this negativity include a lack of requisite knowledge on current agricultural trends, policy changes, modern technologies, and innovations, as well as an overall view of the drudgery of agriculture.
This emphasizes the importance of STEP in Kenya, as it strives to change the attitudes of young people toward careers in agriculture and agribusiness and build a team of future African agribusiness leaders. The participating students were taken through the importance of digital solutions in agriculture, useful tips on looking for internships and jobs, updating resumes, and mastering interviews.