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Colleges asked to lead peace agenda by influencing their students

Colleges and universities have been challenged to take an active role in fostering peace in Kenya as political temperatures rise ahead of the August 8 General Election.

Mount Kenya University (MKU) chairman Prof Simon Gicharu says it is the youth who are mostly misused by political leaders to cause chaos instead of being engaged in worthwhile activities.

He said higher institutions of learning educate 80 per cent of youths in Kenya who are going out all over the country. “There is need to transform these young people to be agents of peace,” Gicharu said during the International Peace, Security and Social Enterprise Conference held at a Nairobi hotel last week.

Gicharu regretted that globally, billions of shillings go to waste in solving challenges brought by the aftermath of conflicts. He said if this money was used to create jobs for the youth, conflicts in the world would be minimised.

He said during the 2007/8 post-election violence that rocked Kenya, MKU had 3,000 students displaced and 10 parents killed. He said the university spent a lot of money to sponsor the students.

“This is why MKU is committed to ensuring that peace is maintained at all times. We should not just talk of curative measures but should underscore preventive approach,” he said.

MKU Vice Chancellor Prof Stanley Waudo cautioned that instabilities such as political and economic uncertainties, radicalisation, fanaticism and racism are fast becoming a global trend.

Waudo said climate change and its adverse effects, poverty, hunger, diminishing natural resources, wars and civil strife, social inequality, environmental degradation, diseases, corruption and xenophobia, among others, contribute to global chaos. He challenged universities and organisations in the world to put all their interest in addressing vices bedeviling the youth.

“Stakeholders and especially universities must wake up to to the “modern challenges to social peace and security,” he said. MKU had contributed Sh17 million towards the peace conference.

Some of the money will be channeled to a consortium formed at the conference to lay strategies for peace, including research on Nyumba Kumi Initiative.

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