The dream of many Kenyans has been to find a way of educating young people to the land - and keeping them there. Fresh hope has come from the planning of a new university where students will use hand and mind in the fields. The school - to be called Moi University, after President Daniel arap Moi - will be the only one of its kind in East Africa. President Moi instigated the project.
''We hope to produce agricultural graduates who will work in the rural areas with small-scale farmers,'' says the project director, Prof. Douglas Odhiambo. ''We visualize a situation where graduates themselves will set up as farmers, not just be employees or government officials.''
Kenyans hope that the college will help stem the migration of rural young people to the cities, where work is scarce. The college's other goal is to help farmers in Kenya's vast dry areas, where water is scarce. Students will be encouraged to have their own plots of land where they can plant cash and subsistence crops.
One vital course of study will be in wildlife management, where students will learn to help balance the needs of man without jeopardizing the existence of Kenya's population of wild animals. Courses will also be offered in forestry, wood science, and technology. The destruction of forests is a major problem, largely because 80 percent of Kenyans heat their homes and cook with wood and charcoal.
The college will be located in Eldoret, about 200 miles from Nairobi. Although the buildings are not up yet, officials hope it can take in its first 100 students in October. The college aims to have between 6,000 and 10,000 students.