University and College Student leaders have been challenged to take up the role of peace ambassadors in higher institutions of learning, in the wake of unrest experienced in several leading varsities in the country. This was the central message of the 2018 National Student Leaders Dialogue Conference organised by The Universities and Colleges Student Leaders Peace Association of Kenya (UCSPAK).
UCSPAK, a national student leaders’ organisation that aims to promote peace, brought together student leaders from public and private universities nationally and distinguished leaders in the education sector, to deliberate on proper channels that should be utilised to handle students’ grievances.
The forum that was held in Nairobi was attended by distinguished guests led by Prof. Chacha Nyaigotti-Chacha, Chairman for Commission for University Education (CUE), Prof. Mwendwa Thuranira, CEO, CUE, CEO, National Youth Council Mr. Raymond Ochieng and Nominated MP Hon. Gideon Keter who is a youth representative in Parliament.
Addressing the student leaders, CUE Chairman Prof. Chacha urged students to take the role of leadership by using proper channels such as dialogue to address grievances. He further requested the leaders to be accountable in what they do through clear documentation as this is useful during audits and for accountability purposes.
“Student leaders play a critical role in the development of our education sector. You are our watch dogs and we encourage you to communicate to us when something requires our attention,” said Prof Chacha, adding, “other than destroying property and going to the streets, let us use more efficient and effective channels to reach out to University administration departments and the CUE.”
The forum also involved conversations around tribalism and nepotism in institutions of learning, with leaders agreeing that these vices hinder the progress of the Kenyan education sector. The students were encouraged to fight tribalism in universities and colleges to avoid divisions along ethnic lines in leadership and in learning.
On his part, Raymond Ochieng, CEO National Youth Council, spoke to the leaders about acquiring employment and creating businesses, encouraging them to use the leadership experience to boost their CVs. “I urge you to aspire to be solutions to a problem and not a part of it. As youth, utilise your potential to ensure you get something out of it, this will play a role in securing a good job anywhere in the world.” Ochieng said.
Kelvin Kirimi, Secretary General, Zetech University Students Association (ZUSA) appreciated the role of UCSPAK in organising the conference that challenged student leaders to serve with diligence and honour, “The forum was educative and helped us better define and understand our role as student leaders in promoting peace in universities, as well as enlightening us on matters affecting us such as unemployment and the law.” Kelvin said.
The well represented forum also saw parliamentary Youth Representative Hon. Gideon Keter advise the student leaders to pay attention to bills passed in parliament aimed that affect the youth. He also motivated the youth to develop a reading cultureto stay informed and up to date.