It is happening! Today, the 6th of April the partnership between the University of Nairobi and Elgon-Kenya Ltd bore the first fruits. The first cohort of 20 interns drawn from various programs at the Faculty of Agriculture (FOA) were flagged off by the Vice Chancellor, Prof Kiama Gitahi and the CEO of Elgon-Kenya, Dr. Bimal Kantaria. The interns are from several programs at the FOA including BSc Agriculture, Horticulture, Agricultural Education and Extension, Agribusiness Management, Food Science Nutrition & Technology and Management of Agro-Ecosystems. Other interns are from Environmental and Biosystems Engineering.
The graduate internship has been mounted in pursuit of one of the objectives of the Agricultural Technology and Innovation Centre (ATIC) that aims at bridging the gap between academia and the industry. The 20 interns who were competitively recruited hail from 13 different counties in Kenya including Elgeyo Marakwet, West Pokot, Trans-Nzoia, Nandi, Homa Bay, Siaya, Vihiga, Kericho, Nakuru, Kiambu, Nairobi, Murang’a, and Nyeri. The interns were presented to the VC, the CEO Elgon-Kenya and the invited guests by Prof. John Kimenju, the chairman of the ATIC committee. In his remarks, Prof. Kimenju indicated that the program seeks to empower the interns with knowledge, skills and competences required make them street-smart graduates. This will be achieved through hands-on experiences from a real work setting, mentorship and coaching by experts from the industry and academia.
Present during the flagging off ceremony were the Permanent Secretary, Finance Mr. Julius Muia, Senior advisor at the Office of the President, Mrs Ruth Kagia, the CEO, British Chamber, Ms Farida Abbas among others. In his remark, Prof Kiama and Dr. Bimal emphasized the importance of partnership between the academia and the industry to ensure that knowledge and research products generated by universities are converted into commercial products for societal good while generating income for the University. Prof. Kiama indicated that the University of Nairobi has adopted the Hub and Spoke model whereby the University serves as the hub where knowledge and products are generated for absorption by the spokes who are the users of the products. On his part PS Muia challenged the academia to move a way from the ‘publish or perish’ motto embraced for academic survival to a more progressive ‘publish, patent and prosper’ motto as they move out of the ‘ivory towers’.
The interns will have a one-week orientation session at Elgon-Kenya and thereafter deployed to work in Counties of their choice for a period of 6 months. The Elgon Kenya management has graciously offered to pay the interns a modest stipend for their upkeep.
The internship program is just one of the objectives of the UON-Elgon Kenya partnership that will also see establishment of a state-of-the-art Agricultural Technology and Innovation Center at the Upper Kabete Campus. The plans for the centre are at an advanced stage with the ground-breaking ceremony scheduled for later this Month (April) or early May.
We wish the interns a fruitful stay at Elgon-Kenya as they fly the University of Nairobi flag high in the ‘real world’ where they translate the knowledge and theory learnt in class into practice.