IVVN African Schools Outreach Programme: Training and Pilot Activity in Nairobi, Kenya

29 Apr 2019

The International Veterinary Vaccinology Network (IVVN) African Schools Outreach Programme, which launched on International Women’s Day 2019, is a collaborative initiative between the IVVN, University of Edinburgh, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), University of Ibadan, University of Zambia, African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD), and the African Vaccinology Network (AfVANET). The aim of the programme is to provide women scientists working in veterinary vaccinology across Africa with the training and resources to host schools outreach workshops in their own countries, with the overall goal of inspiring the next generation of scientists. Following a successful planning meeting in January at the UK & International Veterinary Vaccinology Network Conference 2019, the IVVN African Schools Outreach Programme project team met at ILRI headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya between 22nd and 25th March 2019. The aim of this second meeting was to train the scientists (pictured below) who will be delivering the programme and to pilot the outreach activity in a secondary school in Nairobi.

IVVN Schools Outreach Team

L to R: Irene Kiio, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Kenya; Dr. Funmilayo Ibitayo Deborah Afolayan, University of Ibadan, Nigeria; Dr. Ntombi Mudenda, University of Zambia; Tabby Karanja-Lumumba, Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Research Organisation (KALRO), Kenya; Dr Esther Kanduma, University of Nairobi & KeAWARD, Kenya & Glory E.Mbah, University of Buea, Cameroon. 

Training Session at ILRI, Nairobi

Dr. Nicola Stock and Jayne Quoiani, public engagement professionals from the University of Edinburgh’s Easter Bush Science Outreach Centre (EBSOC), delivered the two-day training session, which began with an introduction to the IVVN African Schools Outreach Programme. The group discussed various aspects of public engagement, including the importance of engaging through hands-on science and the benefits for both school students and researchers of getting involved in public engagement projects, and their personal motivations for being involved in the IVVN African Schools Outreach Programme:

“This project aligns with our passion and vision in life – to reach out to young people to inspire them because they have what it takes to be scientists.”

"Having benefited greatly from mentorship before in personal growth and life skills, I am very keen to extend this mentorship to high school students.”

The group of scientists were introduced to the mobile ‘laboratory in a suitcase’, which contains all of the equipment and reagents required to deliver the outreach workshops. The scientists learned practical tips for teaching groups of students in a classroom including capturing and maintaining students’ attention, positive reinforcement and different presentation styles. The training session concluded with the scientists practising delivery of the schools outreach activity and preparing for its delivery the following week.

Pilot Activity at Precious Blood Riruta Girls High School, Nairobi

After a successful training session, the IVVN African Schools Outreach Programme project team (and laboratory in a suitcase!) visited Precious Blood Riruta Girls High School in Nairobi to deliver the programme for the first time to 40 excited students aged between 15 and 17 years old. The workshop began with students writing down three qualities they associated with being a scientist  and, in order to establish the students’ existing scientific knowledge, students were asked two questions: 1) What is a vaccine? and 2) What infectious diseases have you heard of?

Students then put on lab coats, gloves and safety goggles and were introduced to the concept of the experiment and taught how to use a micropipette. The students worked together in groups of four to pipette different volumes of liquid using micropipette instruction cards. After learning how to pipette, the concepts of negative and positive controls were introduced to the students before they performed a “diagnostic test” on mock serum samples from 40 dogs to determine the percentage of dogs in the sample set that had been vaccinated against Rabies. The students successfully identified those dogs that had received a Rabies vaccine and learned the importance of vaccinating animals to protect both human and animal health.

Following the practical work it was time for ‘Meet the Scientist’ , which gave the students an opportunity to interact with the scientists delivering the workshop in order to learn more about their career paths and to ask the scientists questions.

Following the experimental session, a partner of the IVVN African Schools Outreach Programme, AWARD, hosted a mentorship event led by its Kenyan chapter, KeWARD. Dr. Michelè Mbo’o-Tchouawou, AWARD’s deputy director, began the session by introducing the students to the organisation which has programmes across many African countries. Nora Ndege, Chairperson, KeAWARD, provided an overview of KeWARD. The day concluded with inspirational and motivational talks from Dr. Esther Kaduma, Dr. Beatrice Tuei and Dr. Margaret Lukuyu, three AWARD fellows working in the field of animals sciences and veterinary vaccinology, who highlighted how the students can follow similar career paths and become excellent scientists. 


Future Direction

Thank you to everyone who made the first phase of the IVVN African Schools Outreach Programme such a success. Special thanks go to Dr. Nicola Stock and Jayne Quoiani for designing the activity and running the training, ILRI for hosting the training session, the students and teachers at Precious Blood Riruta Girls High School, AWARD for hosting the mentoring session and, most importantly, the inspirational scientists who delivered the programme. Following on from the success of the pilot project, the IVVN African Schools Outreach Programme will now be implemented in other schools in Kenya and in Nigeria and Zambia – watch this space!

Follow the progress of the project on Twitter @IntVetVaccNet and using the hashtag #InspiringFutureScientists. For enquiries regarding the IVVN African Schools Outreach Programme, please contact IVVN Network Manager, Dr. Carly Hamilton at IVVN [at] roslin [dot] ed [dot] ac [dot] uk.

Funding for the IVVN African Schools Outreach Programme was provided through the University of Edinburgh’s GCRF-Scottish Funding Council allocation for 2018-2019.


Researcher Motivations