Thirty Kenyan youth who went on a 12-month academic pilgrimage in the UK in 2015 are back home.
The 16 young women and 14 young men pursued Master’s in varied fields— including journalism, law, public policy, conflict studies, energy, environment, security and good governance— with a view of improving their lives and developing Kenya.
Their studies were funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office through Chevening Scholarships launched in Kenya in 1984.
On Wednesday, the scholars were received by UK High Commissioner to Kenya Nic Hailey at his Muthaiga home in Nairobi County.
Mr Hailey congratulated the scholars on their achievement and urged them to use their newly acquired knowledge and skills to contribute to Kenya’s development.
“I truly believe there is no better place than Britain to experience a university education,” he said.
“These returning scholars now join a global network of Chevening Alumni spanning over 150 countries, with over 400 here in Kenya, which they will be able to draw on and contribute to for the rest of their lives.”
The scholars, Mr Hailey said, have not only received first-rate UK education but also joined a vibrant community of Chevening Alumni, Foreign and Commonwealth Office staff, UK universities, and partner organisations.
Now in its 33rd year, the Chevening Scholarships programme targets individuals with demonstrable potential to become future leaders, decision-makers, and opinion formers.
The 2015/16 returning scholars told the Nation that their experience in the UK was both enlightening and life-changing.
“The Chevening Scholarship was a dream come true for many of us, an incredible adventure, and journey crowned by having the opportunity to study and gain knowledge in acclaimed premier institutions in the UK and globally,” said Eric Waweru, who gained a Master's in Public Policy at the University of Sheffield.
“Campaigns in the run-up to Brexit and the nature of the debate inspired my return to Kenya. The events reassured me that as citizens, we still have the potential to realise a healthy competitive political environment.”
He added: “We may differ in options and ideology but work together for the benefit and interest of our country.”
The returning scholars now join the Chevening Alumni Network Group (CANG) that is set to be officially launched on March 23, 2017 in Nairobi.
CANG Chairperson Jane Gitau urged the scholars to use their experiences and lessons in the UK to help fix problems afflicting Kenya such as traffic jams, endless strikes, poor governance among others.
The network is scheduled to discuss some of these issues at its breakfast meeting on February 24 at Fairview Hotel on Bishop Road, Nairobi.
Some 32 Kenyans who were awarded scholarships in 2016 are currently studying in world-class universities across the UK.
The UK is one of the biggest bilateral donors to Kenya’s education sector.
It invested £70 million (Sh 11.2 billion) during the period 2012-2015 through UKAid programmes.
This money goes to the heart of the educational challenges facing Kenyans today — improving access to and the quality of education for all children, and bridging regional and gender disparities.