By Ben Mwendwa
EAC clubs have officially been launched in secondary schools across Nairobi region in a pilot programme geared towards accelerating EAC integration process through cascading to all learning institutions across the EAC region.
In a two day Workshop held at a Nairobi Hotel, the State Department of East African Affairs, Ministry of Education, State Department of Planning, EAC Secretariat, GIZ and Sauti ya Jamii Kenya engaged Principals/Head teachers and respective students in the first phase of the programme.
The choice of the participants; the youth in secondary schools were identified to be very crucial at a time when the integration agenda is at its core in pursuit of Vision 2030 which indemnifies the role of the youth in setting up the national and regional development agenda. The workshop offered a platform for the junior youth to understand the EAC integration process and how they can participate in the regional integration agenda as they pursue their individual careers, and socio-economic development goals.
The East African Treaty Article 120 (c) provides for adoption of a common approach for involvement of the youth in the integration process through education, training and mainstreaming youth issues into EAC policies, programmes and projects as one of the strategic interventions towards the realization of a fully integrated Community hence the youth of East Africa are important stakeholders in the EAC integration processes since they form a substantial part of the population.
In the closing ceremony, the Director Social Affairs MS Alice Yalla on behalf of the EAC Affairs Principal Secretary John O.Konchellah reminded the participants that EAC integration is an all-inclusive process that touches on every aspect of the regions development process. In addition to the economic, infrastructural and other areas of integration, the process has a social facet aimed at; harmonizing the Partner States’ Education Systems and Training Curricula, promoting regional harmony through shared Culture, Arts and Sports activities, initiation of social welfare activities and also developing Regional Policies on Health and HIV /AIDS.
The integration agenda addresses issues of good governance, corruption eradication with ultimate aim of developing and establishing a Political Federation.
“As you are aware students have become a key constituency in the integration agenda, therefore it behoves them to spearhead the process, spread the integration gospel to the grassroots and most importantly, critique the policies and the processes of implementation:” said the PS in a speech read by the Social Affairs Director Ms. Alice Yalla.
She underscored the great opportunities offered by EAC in the area of research and information sharing hence to effectively participate in the process there is need to internalize the initiatives of the integration process among learning institutions.
This crucial venture has come after the successful implementation of the University Students’ Debate on Regional Integration. The debate which the PS said provides a regional platform to promote dialogue among the university students and youth is a key regional integration advocacy initiative. The debate also brings together representation from youth councils, private sector, civil society, media, technocrats and academia to dialogue on topical issues on the regional integration agenda.
As an outcome of the annual Debate, five (5) EAC Youth Ambassadors are appointed as focal points in their respective Partner States and Universities, to collaborate with the EAC Secretariat and the Ministries responsible for East African Affairs in sensitizing other students on the EAC integration processes. The successful roll-out of this initiative has necessitated the establishment of EAC Clubs in Secondary Schools to further build on this structure to coordinate and promote youth dialogue, sensitization and awareness creation on the EAC Integration Process, right from the secondary to the university levels.
The set up clubs were identified as key preparatory step for future leadership roles at regional and international levels. The trained students were given the mantle of Ambassadors of EAC integration in their various institutions. This programme will be rolled out to all secondary schools with an aim of cascading to primary and tertiary institutions as observed by Madam Yalla during the closing ceremony. The synergy in the participation by different stakeholders in the workshop clearly indicated the collective commitment in developing a partnership for the benefit of the region’s socio-economic development.
The EAC Social Affairs Director, who was the chief guest retaliated the benefits and opportunities in the East African Community encouraging concerted efforts towards realization of an integrated region.