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The case for entrenching global goals in local varsity curriculum

James Momanyi @PeopleDailyKE

Universities have been challenged to integrate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their curriculum so as to give Kenya a head start in the implementation of global goals and also offer the youth an opportunity to solve societal problems through innovative ideas.

Kenyatta University recently launched the first SDG club that is aimed at mobilising the university fraternity into starting a conversation on the 17 global goals, which are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and promote peace and prosperity.

The clubs will be launched in all public and private universities in the country in a collaboration between a marketing and sustainability consultancy company, MK-Africa and the Ministry of National Treasury and Planning, together with the institutions of learning.

Corporate entities such as Safaricom, East Africa Breweries and Faulu Kenya, among others are the other partners in the SDG agenda to the youth who will by design be the implementers and beneficiaries once the goals are achieved. SDGs are a collection of 17 global goals and 169 targets set by the UN aimed at poverty reduction and improving standards of living in developing countries.

MK-Africa’s CEO, Muthoni Kanyana, told People Daily that her company is working with college students because universities are hubs of research and fertile grounds to nurture the SDG agenda.

The clubs are part of MK-Africa’s #MyLittleBigThing Sustainability Innovation Challenge which is a partnership between the company and the Cambridge University Sustainability Leadership Institute in South Africa.

“The competition is geared towards making universities start a conversation on how they can include SDGs as part of the curriculum so as to allow students to innovate ideas on SDGs. We believe the youth are the ones who will drive this SDG agenda because they have the innovative and creative ability to be able to see these goals implemented across the country,” she said.

“The #MyLittleBigThing SDGs Clubs will help universities to start and deepen their engagement with the SDGs by building internal capacity and ownership of the SDGs, identifying priorities, opportunities and gaps and monitoring, evaluating and communicating their actions on the SDGs.”

Kenyatta University Deputy Dean of Students Dr Caroline Nderi says the #MyLittleBigThing challenge and SDG clubs will help in imparting students with practical skills geared at solving societal problems. “We encourage students to dream and come up with ideas and engage the university on how those ideas can be nurtured to fruition,” she said.

The institution has an incubation centre where students pitch for ideas and are mentored to actualise them. The first edition of the challenge was conducted and over 150 students from all universities pitched their ideas and business proposals centred on SDGs for consideration.

The judging panel selected 15 winners who went to South Africa and were trained and mentored by the University of Cambridge on sustainable goals before they returned ready to implement their ideas. Sam Nyamwange one of the winners last year and the current President of SGD club, Kenyatta University, said the programme has been an eye opener and has allowed him to take his project to the next level.

“My project is called the Automatic Solar Desalinator and Irrigator. It’s an automatic machine that helps one to automatically desalinate water and use it for irrigation,” he said.

Dr Isaac Kamande, Director of Planning at Treasury, who graced the launch, said that it is critical for the youth to be made aware of and be involved in the implementation of the SDGs. “Kenya’s adoption of SDGs has created space for the conception of innovative solutions to address the needs and aspirations of young people,” he said.

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