This blog was produced by Cherie Enns.  She is an educator (University of the Fraser Valley) and urban planner (Cherie Enns Consulting), who first moved to Kenya in 1970. 

It is high time we stopped viewing our young people as part of the problem and started cultivating their promise and potential. Let us all resolve to invest in and protect our most valuable resource, and give young men and women a fair and full stake in our society and its success

Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary General

In the 50 or so years since independence, Kenyans have achieved many goals, but they still confront significant challenges.  Youth in Kenya have the highest rates of unemployment in society and face severe obstacles in terms of integration into the formal labor market with a mismatch between education and jobs as a key challenge. Unemployment rates in East Africa are 11.7% and according to the African Development Bank, youth unemployment constitutes 70% of total unemployment in Kenya. Only a few youth in Kenya are currently ideally placed to embrace technology as a tool for social change.

In this blog, I would like to discuss technology as it relates to the education sector and introduce a Kenyan project that I am currently involved in.

Recent statistics suggest that there are currently more than 700 million mobile subscribers and by 2016 there will be a billion smart phones in Africa alone. Kenya is a leader in mobile banking and has leapfrogged beyond the developing world in many contexts, yet their education system has not as yet fully realized innovation elsewhere.  In a recent CNN open mike session in Nairobi, respondents stated that mobile phones are the ‘offices we are all in’.  I would like to think that in 2013 mobile phones are going to become at times the classroom we are all in’.

Currently I am working with global advisors on an M (Mobile) Education program related to Social Entrepreneurialism and Sustainable Development or Youth MEETS.  This program will be jointly funded by an International Youth Organization and a Canadian university in its infancy and be delivered to youth (18 to 32 years) and shaped by youth interns and advisors.  The purpose of the project is to create an entrepreneurial and sustainable development applied certification program that is interactive and dynamic (in essence a virtual global classroom), using state of the art digital media. While the pilot context focus of the project is youth groups in the developing south that have received grant funding, the intent is to extend this collaborative learning opportunity globally to youth interested in facilitating social and sustainable change.

Education is noted in the Human Rights convention (Article 26) and globally promised as a right, passport of human development, door to opportunities and freedom, fostering peace and technology etc.

An important idea woven into the program is social entrepreneurialism, or business for social good. Global leaders including Muhammad Yunus, Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela and so many others remind us that we should ‘reinforce the role youth have and should play in creating social good’.  Muhammad Yunus further promotes social business and contributing to the world, saying that, contributing to and changing the world is a lot more fun. Let us use education technology to be ‘leaders of social change’!

Viongozi wa Mabadiliko ya Kijamii (Leaders of Social Change)