07 Nov

Kick-Off of Mobile ICT4Ag App Usability Test Event in Kenya

Today marked the day of one of SCARA projects most interesting activities, the usability testing of mobile agricultural apps. 7 computer science students from Egerton University in Kenya gathered to develop an testing setting. This procedure supports the usability evaluation of common Kenyan mobile agri-apps. The students get test their own apps tested by the actual users, the farmers. The students develop a testing procedure under supervision and conduct the usability testing themselves. This provides a great opportunity for them to learn and develop these skills hands-on.

Even in Europe females in tech, computer science, programming and app development is an important topic. The SCARA project is happy that out of 7 students, involved in this activity, 4 are female computer science students. They themselves are developing mobile apps for ICT4Ag scenarios.

The SCARA project partners Egerton University and BOKU Vienna and the APPEAR program supports “Girls for a change“.

27 Mar

Training on Participation, Transformation and Ownership

26 Students were invited to participate in a highly interactive training on participative research and participation. The training was hosted by Egerton University and facilitated by Beverly Achieng (EgU)and Dominik Ruffeis (BOKU). The students were highly motivated to learn about participation, participative research approaches, transformation, community ownership and research ethics. Main goal of the training was to learn how to integrate the methodologies of participation into research and field work.

Participation is getting involved, sharing ideas and discussion and participation is allowing all community members to take part and to own the activities. (Students voice)

A hot debate was going on on the levels of participation and how participation is reflected in common institutions.

Lowest level of participation is just sharing information with communities and the highest level is purely self-motivated community actions including assets and identifying the needs and ideas for change through the communities themselves.

Participation is empowering people to learn, develop, change values, take action and improve. It can lead to sustainability transition or even transformation processes. Changing values and views through learning will eventually lead to changed behavior and innovations.

  • Engage people emotionally
  • Development of resilience
  • Engage people at scale
  • Work towards well being
  • Choose your facilitators carefully

Participation is also about collaboration and working together:

Research should rather focus on solutions and not on problems. Communities always look for solutions and not for problems.

Participants of the Training:

12 Apr

Youth and Agriculture – A challenge for the agricultural sector and food security in Kenya

The are a multitude of arguments when it comes to the issues whether the agricultural sector in Kenya or Africa in general is a viable option for employment for the youth. Some, like Karen Brooks Director of IFPRI argue in a blog post, that agriculture offers a good option to move out of poverty and build satisfying lives if only leaders made policy and investment decisions that increased the competitiveness of Africa’s ‘local farmers’. Others like Jim Sumberg, research fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, says in a blog post that “upgrading employment opportunities within the agricultural sector (i.e. from preventative to promotive and/or transformative), may only come about through the fundamental restructuring of the sector”. Both positions implies that huge efforts are needed to create change at the policy level to have a wider impact on the agri-sector and the youth.

The Youth wants the change and they are on the way

While the debate is ongoing and changes through policy and investment decisions or  restructuring of the sector is most-likely to trickle in slowly, the youth is looking for opportunities and the market and the agribusiness is moving at much faster pace.

The SCARA APPEAR project gives young people the opportunity to explore options and challenges and look for solution from their own perspective. And that is what happened last week at Egerton University. 30 young people from young farmer, ICT experts, high school and university students met to discuss burning issues related to agriculture and youth. During the workshop organized as an open space, they had the opportunity to voice they opinions and look for solution from their own unique perspective. And this was only the beginning of an interesting journey.

The youth council – an advisory board by young people

As a major milestone of the SCARA project, a youth council was established. The youth council will meet on a regular bases to discuss issues regarding youth, agriculture, innovations, challenges, ICT, ICT4Ag and solutions that fit their unique needs. They will provide input to a Innovation Platform (IP) that will be formed to discuss the metioned issues on a broader multi-stakeholder scale.

Creating the agenda SCARA APPEAR open space ICT agriculture

Creating the agenda SCARA

Agenda of the youth SCARA APPEAR Egerton Kenya ICT agriculture

Agenda of the youth SCARA

Group discussion SCARA APPEAR Egerton Kenya agriculture ICT

Group discussion SCARA

High school student SCARA APPEAR Egerton Kenya

High school student SCARA

Group picture youth workshop SCARA APPEAR Egerton Kenya

Group picture youth workshop SCARA

Youth council members SCARA APPEAR Egerton Kenya

Youth council members SCARA

06 Apr

Creative scientific writing course – Impressions and Reflexions

The course on creative scientific writing taught by Dr. Andreas Zitek from Center for Education, e-Learning and Didactics from BOKU was very well received by all students of Egerton University. In fact the training created a lot of interest across the faculties of Egerton University. This might lead to further collaboration between the universities.

30 female and male students, from Master to PhD level and academic staff members of Egerton University participated in the innovative 2-day course on creative scientific writing of papers and research proposals. During the highly interactive course developed by Andreas Zitek , they received a practical hands-on training based on an innovative combination of creative didactics and technologies.

Young scientists will have the opportunity to participate in a research competition with separate entries for female and male students. 10 students, selected by a jury, will receive support and mentoring for their work from proposal development to publication by BOKU and Egerton University academic staff members. A shared moodle course will be hosted by the E-Campus of EU. This will strengthen collaboration between BOKU and EU through an innovative mentorship program for young students to increase capacities in e-learning and research of both Universities.

Selected quotes from Andreas lecture:

Writing = mind structuring
“Writing a research paper is to learn to
bring order into your own thoughts.
It is the experience of methodological work.
That is why the topic of the work is less
important than the experience that comes
with it.”
(Umberto Eco)

I hear and I forget.
I see, and I remember.
I do and I understand.

03 Apr

Training on Creative Writing – How to write a scientific paper

The stage is set for the second round of training on creative writing and workshop for the project.
We will have a practical hands-on training and lots of discussion on how to write a scientific paper led by Andreas Zitek from Center of Education at BOKU  University – Vienna to improve capacity of young researcher of Egerton University.

One main activity of the SCARA project is to engage young researchers in research work related to the main topics of SCARA project as part of capacity building in higher education. Young scientist will have the opportunity to participate in a research competition with entries for female and male students. The selected students will have the opportunity to present their research work to an international audience at the final project symposium.