RONGO – BRIGHTON UNIVERSITIES COLLABORATION WORKSHOP, 13TH -17TH JANUARY, 2014, RONGO

Introduction

Rongo University College, though initially a middle level College for technical training, became a University College in 2012. It is located in Southern Nyanza, Migori County within the sugar Belt and Gold rich zone along the Kisii – Sirare road and near fishing areas along Lake Victoria.

It has six Schools, with a total population of 3146 students. One of the Schools – The School of Information, Communication and Media Studies (INFOCOMS), has been charged with developing degree programmes that embrace the technological world of information network. The programmes are market oriented and  tailored to meet international standards. It is also developing opportunities for collaborative research activities in which ICTs are used for development in communities in Migori County.

Indeed research oriented initiatives form key to our Rongo-Brighton Collaboration. For this purpose our School today is making strides in installing media resources for providing hands-on skills training for students – the skills vital for the success of this collaboration.

Why the Collaboration

The strength of any university today lies in its links with other universities worldwide for collaborative research, staff and student exchange, and industrial linkages. And for our purpose, Rongo University College, being an institution built deep into rural setting, is proud to have developed collaboration with Brighton University, a university of high repute for its media technology courses in the United Kingdom. Indeed the locale where Rongo University College is built has raised high expectation among the communities of how the university college can transform their socio-economic wellbeing. It is therefore imperative that technological courses s in the school should have a spill-over effect in the communities such as to fuel some economic viability.

Our university also stands to compete with other universities on performance rating. It is however, through collaborative initiatives like the one we now have with Brighton University that will give us avenues to borrow, at least for curriculum development, new courses from a well established university like Brighton. All that our school will gain in the collaboration will build upon the image of Rongo University College.

Last year in August, our students went to Nairobi and joined Brighton University students for a short stint of an inspiring four days workshop, and out of this an idea of developing a multimedia centre was mooted. Rongo University immediately took the idea seriously. The Media Studies section in our School immediately approached the university administration to kickstart the initiative by giving financial support to enable the school install some resources in the Multimedia Centre. The response was positive and the installation work is currently going on with our expectation that by the end of this year, the Centre will be adequately resourced and fully operational. The school also appreciates the donation from Brighton University towards resourcing of the Centre.

Working with the International Youth Council (IYC)

Our Rongo-Brighton collaboration is the brain child of the Chairperson – IYC Kenya, who has continued to be very instrumental in guiding the initial stages of our collaboration for developing initiatives that will reach the youth for economic viability and peace through the use of media. Since the trajectory is towards the disadvantaged communities targeting mostly the youth and women, our outreach activities and research initiatives will therefore focus on the youth along Lake Victoria.  And with this in mind, the school has identified various areas in Migori County where our activities will be based. In our discussion with the IYC chairperson, identified the following areas as the centres for our focus this year:

  1. Mogori – Peace and Conflict resolution: for the youth who participate in intraethnic conflicts in Kuria district.
  2. Nyandhiwa – Youth empowerment: for promoting sustainable development for the youth. This is an initiative that already has got support from the County Government, in which the county representative wants the youth to be engaged in agricultural activities to enhance their livelihood.

At present, the School already has one doctoral student researching on the intra-ethnic conflict among the Kuria communities in Migori County. His project strengthens the School’s commitment in issues affecting communities around our university college. Our undergraduate students have also shown interest in poverty situation among communities in Rongo where children and women engage in artisanal gold mining in dangerous conditions to eke a living. These students are presently writing their projects describing the conditions in these mining areas as part of their media course requirements.

This Year’s Collaboration Work.

Unlike last year when Rongo University College students joined Briton University students in Nairobi for a training workshop, this year, photography, video, audio production and editing training will be conducted in Rongo Campus. The training activities will culminate with field visits to enable our students apply what they will acquire through the training.

The visit will enable the students to see one Community Media Centre (CMC) at Nyandhiwa, where we have acquired one room equipped with ten computers. They will also visit Mogori where the Brighton university students will pay a courtesy call on the County Governor and hold a discussion on intraethic conflict reconciliation thereafter with a youth group. The Nyandhiwa CMC is expected to be eventually networked with the main multimedia centre at Rongo Campus such that expert information can be made available for the communities around Nyandhiwa. The information will focus on:

  1. Peace
  2. Agriculture
  3. Fishing
  4. Business
  5.  Health related issues
  6. Drug abuse

The CMCs will therefore exploit the information potential of media in driving and sustaining the activities of the communities for profitable gain and not simply boosting such activities for non-beneficial ends. A number of media resources will be used in the CMC, including photos, videos, info-graphics and other social media to reach the communities to promote sustainable development.

Conclusion

While CMCs will provide a large area for research and other outreach activities, the School intends to make use of its collaboration with Brighton University to enable it, through the use of media, to reach a significant number of youth in the County. The attempt will be to create awareness in the development activities and the use of the youth much is expected from it by the surrounding communities, therefore technological courses we develop must have potentials for profitable activities in order to positively transform their livelihoods and those of their communities.

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