The Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology students have been crowned the Inter University Human Rights Debate (IHRD) Champions after trouncing over 50 teams representing 30 universities in Kenya to clinch the 2017 Inter University Human Rights Debate Competition Trophy.
Members of the JKUAT Debate Society comprising of Molly Akinyi, Miriam Rioba, Brian Kithinji, Ruth Adhiambo and Moses Wangwa, participated in the 6th edition of the Inter University Human Rights Debate Competition at the Pan African Christian University in November, last year.
Speaking during the award presentation ceremony at JKUAT Main Campus, Monday, January 9, 2018, the Executive Director of Amnesty International, Mr. Irungu Houghton, hailed JKUAT for providing a good platform for students to explore their talents. “I am grateful to the University leadership for creating such a vibrant space for students to demonstrate their creativity, innovation while emphasizing the importance of people with values,” he observed.
Mr. Irungu challenged students to internalize values that will help them to impact positively on the world, noting that “JKUAT students are receiving the IHRD Trophy at a moment when the world is marking 70 years of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, thus reflecting on the issue of human rights.”
The Human rights defender added that Kenya has witnessed a lot of changes since 1948. He paid tribute to the internationally celebrated Kenyan scholar the late Prof. Calistous Juma, whom he characterized as an ethical human being who always believed that it was unfeasible to isolate development, ethics and human rights issues. “You cannot achieve human development without regard to human rights, said Mr. Irungu, and further urged JKUAT students to see the IHRD award as a platform to do bigger things.
Vice Chancellor, Prof. Mabel Imbuga, praised the students for displaying excellent communication skills as well as the diversity of academic disciplines from which the Debating Society members were drawn. “You have made JKUAT proud. We expect to win more trophies in 2018,” Prof. Imbuga said.
She commended the winners and encouraged them to continue mentoring their peers emphasizing that the exposure gained was important in sharpening the students’ performance in interviews and in life. The Vice Chancellor also advised all students to exercise their rights responsibly.
Commenting on the contest that attracted over 300 participants from universities, the Chairperson of the Debate Society, Miriam Rioba challenged JKUAT students to exploit their talents: “There is more to life beyond a degree. If you realize you have a talent, exploit it.”
Her sentiments were echoed by the Organizing Secretary, Molly Akinyi, who advised other students to focus on extra curriculum activities, urging those who are not members of any club to join them. “The Debating Society is the best place to be in JKUAT,” she observed.
The Inter University Human Rights Debate Championship was initiated in 2012 as a strategic partnership between Student Consortium for Human Rights Advocacy (SCOHRA) and the Amnesty International Kenya, to engage university students in furtherance of positive and productive human rights discourse through thematic debates.
SCOHRA was represented at the function by the Executive Director, Awuor Ayiecho, while Zulekha Amin and Geoffrey Kerosi represented Haki JAMII among other staff from SCOHRA and Amnesty Kenya.
Others who spoke at the function included: Deputy Vice Chancellor (RPE) Prof. Mary Abukutsa, Dean of Students, Mrs. Emma Omulokoli and her Deputy, Mr. William Nyariki, Patron of the Debate Society, Caroline Oywer and University Chaplain Rev. James Wakaba.