Thursday 9th June, at approximately 12.40 pm, five formidable ladies and two gentlemen left Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and embarked on a journey. A journey with a noble mission. A mission to inform, to empower, to mentor, and to inspire. The embodiment of this mission being the pillars upon which the JKUAT Women in ICT (WICT) initiative is anchored. This was the objective that one Phyllis Ngigi, Dorothy Kahenya, Caroline Wambugu, Myrabel Memusi, Suzzan Mburu, Michael Waititu and Tobias Belleh had in mind when they touched down at Alliance Girls High School approximately one hour later.
When the eagerly awaiting students finally gathered, a conglomerate of form two, form three and form four students, the eagerness and enthusiasm to learn and tap from the team was clearly evident. And they were not disappointed. Under the capable moderation of Michael Waititu, the University ICT Student-Industry Liaison, the team engaged the students on everything ICT, why they need to give it a keen attention, as well as insight on the programmes available at JKUAT. While giving her opening remarks, Phyllis Ngigi, the brainchild of the WICT initiative, relayed to the students the significance of ICT in the contemporary society and how it traverses all professions and careers. “ICT is no longer for the advantaged few but a requirement to fit in this dynamic economy, which calls for up to date ICT knowledge and skills.”
Her message resonated with the belief entrenched in the foundation of the WICT initiative, that ICT is a vital engine for promoting growth, efficiency and productivity in all spheres of life. The next question that would pop in a High School student’s mind at this juncture was what career path to pursue in order to remain relevant in such a tech-savvy society. The answer to this was readily provided by Caroline Wambugu when she rose to speak with the ladies. I will not call them girls because one of the first things you notice when you enter Alliance Girls High Scholl are the many wooden placards with insightful messages and quotes. One of them stated ‘You bring us girls, we give you ladies’. But I digress.
Caroline’s presentation to the ladies entailed a comprehensive account of the various career paths and choices that relate with ICT, as well as how all the other disciplines relies on or complement Information Communication Technology. Her core message was the unlimited possibilities that could be accomplished through the productive application of ICT. Her sentiments were echoed by Susan Mburu and Myrabel Memusi, who also addressed the students on the importance of being wary of their online activities, especially on social media platforms. The phrase ‘The Internet never forgets’ was one pill the students painfully swallowed. And so should you. Yes, you. I remember last Friday I attended a Social Media training that further served to make that reality even further sink in. And since I’m a nice guy, I’ll share with you that part of the training. You see, the world has become so tech-savvy that employers no longer solely rely on your physical CVs to offer you a job. Social media platforms is your new CV. Many employers will today skim through your social sites to get deeper insights about you. The need to be careful about what you post online, how you engage people and what you reveal about yourself is therefore at the epicenter of the most significant things to take care of. Thank me later.
It’s imperative to note that with the advancements in technology and ICT has come equal amount of challenges especially when it comes to cyber-security. Just how safe are you online, how safe is your information or intellectual property and how exactly should you ensure you’re never victim of cyber-criminals? This was the object of discussion when Dorothy Kahenya, the University’s Head of Social Media and Customer Relations Department rose to address the students. Underscoring the significance of being careful when engaging with people online, she enlightened the students on why technology & ICT is a priceless and timely tool, but one that should be used astutely.
The session was however not just a one-directional chat. The open interactive session gave the students opportunity to engage the JKUAT staff members on all queries ICT as well as the various courses offered in the University and their academic requirements. Of course there were selfies involved thereafter. I mean you don’t preach to an audience of a selfie generation without taking at least one, right? What I’m trying to say is that the session was not only fruitful in its mission, but fun too.
The team that was at Alliance Girls came from the Research Consultancy and Training (RCT) and the Social Media and Customer Relations (SMCR) Departments, all under the University’s ICT Directorate. The JKUAT WICT is an initiative whose vision is to empower marginalized groups like young women, persons with disability and youth. With a mission to encourage these groups to embrace the numerous opportunities that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) offers in today’s world, the initiative has hosted in the University several mentorship & education sessions with various relevant groups, among them being a group of 50 girls from Kihumbuini girls in March this year, and students from Makueni Child Development Centre in April.