Today, I had a very fruitful focused group discussion with students at the Institute of Applied Technology, Matasia Campus. This institute is situated in Kajiado County- Ngong, along Memusi Road. It offers very unique and marketable courses which include;
- Plant operators; three machines, four machines, five and six machines.
- Plant operator, advanced repairs and maintenance.
- Driving ;Class B (light motor vehicle)
- Welding and Fabrication
- Motor vehicle mechanics and electrical wiring among others.
The majority of students are male youth aged below 35 years. The interesting bit about these cohort of youth is that they are drawn from all corners of Kenya; from Malindi to Baringo,Kericho,Kisii,Makueni just to mention but a few. Matasia campus indeed represents the face of Kenya.
This being my first visit to the institution, I had one sole objective; to introduce Osim mentors youth programs to this community. After a warm welcome, I introduced myself and my main mission. I made it clear that I wanted to give back to the community by sharing my knowledge and skills after having worked passionately and tirelessly in the public sector and specifically working with youth while stationed in the State Department for Youth Affairs for the last 15 years of my career. To say the truth, these were the most enjoyable, fruitful and productive years in my career that spanned 34 years.
To set the stage and the pace of our discussion, the students had a chance to introduce themselves by name, their country of origin and the course being undertaken. This part is usually very important in any forum because it demonstrate recognition and appreciation of each and every member present. It is one way of inviting their participation. As a facilitator, it gives you an opportunity to gauge the degree of self -confidence and fluency of participants and act as an ice-breaker as you endeavor to create a rapport and ease tension in the room. During this stage I was very impressed by the presence of one female student; the only one in the room; she is undertaking a driving course and she attends classed alongside her 2 years old baby girl. So, the little baby girl is part of the college community as was evident throughout our discussion; her college mates were taking turn to hold the baby. This young lady’s determination to make it in life is quite inspiring.
In order to make the students own the program,I decided to carry out a kind of a training needs assessment by asking them to point out the challenges that they as youth are facing. They actively participated and identified the following areas as of great concern, and need to form the basis of our future discussions;
- Financial constrains
- Negative impacts of alcohol and drug abuse
- Gender discrimination at family level
- Poor career choices (lack of career guidance)
- Poor child parenting( child abuse and neglect)
- Youth sexual reproductive health and HIV and Aids
- Lack of motivation and Self –drive
- Negative peer pressure
- Harmful cultural beliefs and practices
- Irresponsible use of social media
- Lack of a saving and investment culture
- Poor time management
Having heard from the students themselves, it was now my turn to introduce Osim mentors programs which are;
- Life skills coaching and mentorship to develop self – awareness and self confidence among our youth.
- Raising awareness on alcohol and drug abuse
- Emtreprenuarship and Basic financial literacy
- Responsible use of social media
- Promoting access to employment –CV writing, preparing and presenting oneself for job interviews among others.
As we discussed the above programs, I underscored the fact that youth form the largest segment of the Kenyan population; at least 75% of Kenyans are aged below 35 years (National population census; 2019).I also reiterated that youth are the greatest and most significant asset that Kenya can boost of; they are energetic, creative and innovative. It is therefore very critical, necessary and urgent to empower our youth so that they can play their part in developing Kenya as responsible and healthy citizens for a prosperous future.
In addition to this, I pointed out the God –given roles that man is expected to play in the society; these are to;
- Provide for the family
- Protect the family
- Pray –lead the family in prayers
I highlighted with great concern that for the man to play these 4 roles effectively, he needs to be very sober and healthy. That there is no way one can succeed in these roles if one engages in alcohol and drug abuse.
In conclusion, we agreed that we shall have many more interactions in the near future to continue with our discussion based on the identified challenges. It was indeed a great opportunity to empower our youth.