Egerton University has entered into a partnership with Kisii National Polytechnic (KNP) for a multimillion-shilling capacity-building project tailored to improve education programmes in agriculture.
The director of the university’s Centre of Excellence for Livestock Innovation and Business Prof Alexander Kahi says the project is funded to the tune of more than Sh525 million by the German Development Bank under the Skills Initiative for Africa (SIFA) programme.
“Egerton has a long-running scorecard in building the capacity of TVETs (technical and vocational education training). Through this project, KNP will deliver quality, market relevant and gender-sensitive programmes,” said Prof Kahi.
He explained that the project will bring together the public and private sectors, higher education institutions and communities to support skills development, business incubation and outreach.
“The project will cascade years of experience and knowledge in developing the value chains. KNP will also receive physical infrastructural support to facilitate research and training,” added Kahi.
He noted that agriculture, which accounts for 65 per cent of employment in Africa, should be viewed as an agribusiness industry to enhance the growth and development of the continent’s economies.
“We need to interrogate why there have been multiple efforts to enhance the competitiveness of agricultural value chains but failed to generate sustainable economic impact,” said Kahi.
According to him, the lack of capacity among TVET centres remains a major setback to fostering the transformation of the sector.
“The institutions face inadequate trained and skilled labour, weak or non-existent linkages with the private sector and little to no infrastructure resulting in skills gaps in our workforce,” he said and underscored the need for partnerships between universities, most of which have the required human capital, and TVET institutions to facilitate the transfer of knowledge into practice.
“This is one of such partnerships to be emulated. We intend to capacitate KNP in entrepreneurial support by helping innovators grow their enterprises, market linkages and increase their economic prospects,” he said.
Prof Kahi estimates that up to 3,000 youth will be trained through the programme which Egerton is implementing under its Center of Excellence for Livestock Innovation and Business.
“This is a project which will foster employment and business-oriented skills development among youth and will place at least 2,000 of them in jobs,” said Prof Kahi.
Kisii National Polytechnic Principal Daniel Nyariki said that the institution takes the project with pride exuding confidence in Egerton University’s capacity in agricultural programmes.
“Under this partnership, we are confident of developing highly qualified, globally competitive and innovative human resources responsive to market demands,” said Nyariki.
He noted that this will also be a trailblazer in bringing more youth into the agricultural sector which has in recent years been left in the hands of the ageing population.
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“We hope to contribute to youth employment at a time when our youthful population is grappling with high rates of joblessness. It will also go a long way in addressing our food security situation. Together we can provide solutions to human development challenges,” said Mr Nyariki.