Scouts roped in to champion peace in Kenya
A Memorandum of Understanding between the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) and Kenya Scouts Association (KSA) will see over one million scouts across the country champion peace, national identity and values.
The MoU paves way for an initiative dubbed “Scouting for Peace in Kenya”.
The scouts’ movement, which is the largest movement in Africa, boasts of membership across the country. This will come in handy to play a key part on the empowerment of youth by moulding them into responsible and active citizens.
Francis ole Kaparo, NCIC chair and Chief Scout says the initiative will take advantage of the numbers and networks that the scouts’ movement has built over the years since its founding in 1910 to build peace and national cohesion.
“Through the scouts’ movement, I want to create a brigade of Kenya to fight the demon of tribalism, religious bigotry, radicalization and terrorism,” said Kaparo. He reiterated that the initiative will focus on appreciating diversity among the youth in order to mentor them into becoming responsible citizens equipped with conflict resolution skills in their own spaces by embracing diversity.
The scouting movement has over the years included both boys and girls without discrimination on the basis of origin, race and gender, creed ethnic or tribal balance. Additionally, they will carry out a number of activities which will work to demonstrate the importance of establishing peaceful co-existence among Kenyans.
The sensitization activities will include peace walks, peer education and advocating for the establishment of Amani (peace) clubs in learning institutions.
This comes at a time when many learning institutions are experiencing unrest and violence. The vice has been on the rise in the recent past in high schools and universities across the county. This has seen many institutions closed down. For instance, in high schools fires suspected to have been started by students have been registered in Chumani, Dzitsoni and Lutsangani secondary schools in Kilifi County and Stephjoy High School in Kiambu.
Institutions of higher learning such as colleges and universities also experience incidents of insecurity. There have been reports of rape cases, robbery with violence and possession of arms by students within the campus. Additionally, universities such as the University of Eldoret have been closed down due to ethnic attacks on students from certain communities. These are serious issues that pose a direct threat to all the students in learning institutions and members of staff.
National Cohesion and Integration Commission plans to invest in the youth, especially in learning institutions, in order to socialize young people into principles of non-violence and national values in building a peaceful multi-ethnic nation.
Young people in schools will be targeted and equipped with the right values and virtues before they exit into the larger community. According to the Commission, this is an effective way for character formation and promoting national cohesion, tolerance and integration.
Ray Charles Musau, Chief Commissioner Kenya Scouts Association says: “Under the fundamental Principles of Scouting, scouts are mandated to co-exist and be loyal to their country in harmony with the promotion of local, national and international peace”.
Musau notes: “Having just completed our first round of national registration of scouts, our membership now stands at over one million.”
This gives Kenya Scout Association the infrastructure, reach and potential to influence the youth to embrace peace and discourage negative ethnicity.
The scouts programme is a holistic approach to education, which is aimed at contributing to the development of young people in achieving their full physical, intellectual, social, spiritual, emotional and character potentials as individuals, as well as responsible citizens and members of their local, national and international communities.
“Through the Scout Youth Programme, young people are moulded into men and women of character and integrity,” explained Musau. He noted: “Scouts learn to be responsible and self-reliant and agents of development in their communities.
Musau notes that through this programme, scouts are promoters of peace and creative persons who continually search for ways to solve problems in their communities.
This is not the first peace initiative by the scouts’ movement. Previously, the scouts planted 17 million trees as well the Embu; a Nairobi peace walk was held in November 2014, which saw 100 Rover Scouts walk for 145 kilometres for five days advocating for peace as the Association celebrated 104 years of scouting in the country.