New curriculum to demystify biotechnology
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20 December 2016
Author :   Karitu Njagi
Biotechnology, a gateway to food security : >> Image Credits by:Isaiah Esipisu

NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - The New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) in collaboration with three African universities is set to unveil the first curriculum tailored to address the political, social and cultural concerns that have been slowing biotechnology growth in the continent.

By August 2017, University of Eldoret, University of Nigeria and the Polytechnic University of Bobo-Dioulasso in Burkina Faso will enlist the first group of scientists to pursue a Masters Degree in biotechnology and its impact on food security.

Principal coordinator of the programme, Prof. Miriam Kinyua, says graduates will be able to impact positively on all aspects of food security in terms of skills, production, extension, and processing.

“The curriculum aims to demystify biotechnology as genetic engineering and prepare graduates for the challenges of industry,” says Prof. Kinyua who is also a Professor of biotechnology at University of Eldoret.

According to her, the curriculum is developed in such a way that after 20 years it is able to accommodate new market shifts and scientific advances.

“That is why this curriculum is unique because it embraces African diversity, but it also contains the content of science that should be included in a programme,” says Prof Kinyua.

The curriculum, developed with expertise from University of Gloningen in the Netherlands, is packaged into modules with a Masters degree as the baseline.

But it will also award a certificate for a month in training, a course of attendance for a week and also a diploma package.

“It is up to the demand. We will deliver according to the demand,” says Prof Kinyua.
Prof. Diran Makinde, senior advisor, Africa Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNET) under NEPAD, says such a programme is important for Africa to build its capacity since the continent is no yet food secure.

“Any technology has its own risks. But the benefits are more than the risks. We need to learn how to manage the risks. This is the purpose of this programme,” says Prof. Makinde.

According to him, NEPAD invites all African countries to adopt the curriculum if the continent is to achieve the six per cent target on agricultural productivity.

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