Mount Kenya University to become First African Country to Deploy Students directly as UN Volunteers

The United Nations and Mount Kenya University (MKU) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that allows MKU students to directly deploy its students as volunteers within the UN system.

UN Volunteers officials led by Executive coordinator, Olivier Adam and the MKU fraternity led by Acting Vice Chancellor, Prof Peter Wanderi signed the deal at the MKU main campus in Thika last week. “MKU will be the first university in Africa to deploy its students as volunteers to the UN,” Adam said. 

“The formalization of our engagement with United Nations volunteers today creates yet another opportunity for our students to gain practical experience by becoming volunteers in United Nations entities and activities,” said Prof Wanderi.

The main goal of the partnership is to enhance the capacity and engagement of youths from the region as the key actors of change in global development issues.

Through this partnership, the best and brightest students of MKU will for up to six months, be deployed in various UN agencies in Kenya- as UN University Volunteers to apply their knowledge and skills in several areas of UN peace and development work.

Sponsored by the MKU Foundation, every year a selected number of students will serve as UN Volunteers in Kenya.  Adam said there is a global consensus that the engagement of youth as leaders and active solution finders was key in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. “In Kenya, SDGs have been captured in the Big Four Agenda aimed at tackling food security, affordable housing, manufacturing and health care,” he said. 

The partnership will give students a six months opportunity to be at the epicentre of the UN activities. Currently, 117 Kenyans are serving as UN Volunteers in Kenya and many more outside.  “You can potentially become part of the UN personnel deployed in Kenya to foster the implementation of the SDGs while gaining the professional skills needed to boost you into the next chapter of your lives,” Adam said. 

 “Besides its reputation in academic excellence, MKU has become a beacon of innovative research in promoting development solutions in  this region,” he added. 

 MKU founder and chairman Prof Simon Gicharu said the college would support five students to undertake the volunteer programme for six months at a cost of Sh4 million. “This demonstrates the conviction we have that the UNV programme is good for our students and the university,” he added. 

He challenged MKU managers to seek partnerships and funding from other organisations so that more students can be sponsored to volunteer at UN. 

 Prof Wanderi emphasised the key role of partnerships in promotion of higher education and encouraged students and community at large to participate in volunteerism. “The formalisation of our engagement with UN creates yet another opportunity for our students to gain practical experience,” he added.  

The students will be exposed to resources at UN organisations such as libraries. Volunteering will give the students an advantage when applying for jobs or when they want to advance career opportunities.

So far, a total of 486 UN youth volunteers have served in the region since the perception of the programme, with Kenya leading as host country over the years.

Among them, 37 were universities youth volunteers. The volunteers serve in different areas of development, humanitarian and peace-building initiatives.

PD online & MKU Website

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