Over the years, universities and their researchers have been accused of failing to connect with the society which is why there has been a growing decline in the trust people place in institutions and experts. To change this narrative, JKUAT’s Prof. Henry Bwisa says there is a need to develop new ways of collaborating and engaging with the community.
According to the Professor of Entrepreneurship, universities need to create opportunities for both students and lecturers to work personally and directly with the community, to share knowledge, listen to their creative ideas and work together on projects that have practical applications within the community.
For his two units; Social Entrepreneurship and Community Resource Mobilisation being offered in the 2nd year of BSc. Public Administration and Leadership, Prof. Bwisa has taken a practical approach to teaching.
At the beginning of the semester he instructed his students to identify the problems affecting the Juja community and come up with practical solutions to help the residents. With the help of the Juja Member of County Assembly (MCA) the students identified several problems including insecurity, unemployment, agriculture, water, health and sanitation and came up with 20 projects in a bid to curb the problems.
Wendy Ochong, a 2nd year Public Administration and Leadership student attests that so far the two units have been the most enjoyable classes she has attended.
“It is gratifying to know that the solutions we are coming up with in class can be used to address some of the problems facing the Juja community where I am part of,” says Ochong.
Ochong is confident that the practicality of the teaching has significantly improved her peoples’ skills and she now appreciates the power and importance of collaboration.
The class representative, Sadiq Maulidi echoing the words of Ochong says it is his hope that the projects can be escalated and introduced to the community even after the culmination of the semester.
“We need to broaden our collaborative networks, use the knowledge gained in class to empower and better the community around the University,” opines Maulidi.
Japheth Lusweti, Zipporah Nyangweso, Emmanuel Langat and Gloria Lodenyi on April 4, 2019 took to Mung’etho area in Juja Constituency to train over 25 women on how to make bags from old jeans and sweaters. The quadruple aim at empowering the women to be able to create income from the selling of bags.
With a ruler, pair of scissors, sewing thread and needle, long sleeve top and old jeans costing Ksh. 360, the students confirm that the women can make Ksh. 500 from a single bag, making a profit of Ksh. 140.
Ms. Monica Wanjiku, one of the participants of the training appreciated the training saying “I have learnt something new and innovative that will help me generate income hence improving my economic status.”
Going forward, Ms. Wanjiku is confident that the women involved in the training will be able to form a group and create a business from bag making.
“There is power in number and I believe if we join hands and form a group, we will be able to empower other women and grow ourselves financially,” said Ms. Wanjiku.
While appreciating the women for coming to the training, Prof Bwisa and the students urged the women and the community at large to take advantage of the University to find solutions to the problems facing the community.