Reforming agri-entrepreneurship education in Africa

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HAMK coordinates a joint initiative for reforming agri-entrepreneurship education in Kenya, Uganda and Zambia. Revising and reforming the curricula enhances graduates’ entrepreneurial skills and supports employment.

The kickoff meeting for AgriSCALE (Collaborative Action for Scaling Agri-Entrepreneurship and Industry Engagement in Food and Agribusiness Training in Sub-Saharan Africa) was held via Zoom on October 7–8. The objective is to collaboratively reform agri-entrepreneurship education in the partner HEIs (Higher Education Institutions) in Kenya, Uganda and Zambia. The two-day kickoff gathered over 70 people from all partner countries.

Entrepreneurship in the heart of AgriSCALE

– Entrepreneurship, problem-solving and innovativeness are key factors in supporting the employment in Africa, Erik Lundberg, Finland’s Ambassador to Kenya and Uganda, stated in his greeting.

Entrepreneurship and learning by doing are key elements in AgriSCALE. Students will adapt problem-based learning (PBL) methods in agri-entrepreneurship teaching on field courses and solve real working life problems. This calls for close collaboration between the industrial sector and educational institutes.

Erik Lundberg.

– We learn best by doing and trying ourselves, the Project Manager, Dr Eija Laitinen, reminded in her opening speech.

The importance of practical learning, innovativeness and entrepreneurship is recognized in all partner HEIs (Higher Education Institutions). Prof Mwanarusi Saidi from Egerton University, Kenya, told that innovation is in the centre of all activity at Egerton.

– All students at Mulungushi University must have entrepreneurship course, but we wish to enhance our relations to the industrial sector, said Dr Emmanuel Musaba, Mulungushi University in Uganda.

What AgriSCALE means to the partner HEIs.

Promoting gender equality

Gender equality is given special focus while reforming the curricula. The majority of teachers and student at all levels is male in all partner HEIs in Kenya, Uganda and Zambia. Involving girls and women in education and entrepreneurship need to be especially considered, until gender is no longer an issue in education or working life.

– Women and youth are the agents of change for creating prosperity in Eastern Africa, Ambassador Erik Lundberg pointed out.

Looking forward to meeting face-to-face

COVID-19 has affected and will affect carrying out the curricula reformation and student field work drastically, but there is a silver lining. Virtual meetings allow more people from all around the world attend easily.

– Virtual meetings have brought people all around the world, but nothing can replace live contact, Mr Jan Koivu, Head of Cooperation at Embassy of Finland in Zambia, says.

– COVID-19 has possibly made the goals of the project AgriSCALE even more relevant. Securing food production and food supply chains is more important than ever in times of limited mobility, says Dr Mona-Anitta Riihimäki, Dean of School of Bioeconomy at Häme University of Applied Sciences.

Kavwanga Yambayamba and Eija Laitinen.

Networking and learning from each other is crucial in reforming. In addition to creating a new learning environment through reforming the curricula, AgriSCALE partners will create a network for future collaboration and constant development. Best learning practices will be shared also in non-partnering HEIs in wider Sub-Saharan Africa. As professor Kavwanga Yambayamba, Mulungushi University, puts it:

– Change doesn’t come, it is made.

Varpu Somersalo

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