The UK has awarded scholarships to 30 Kenyans, including this writer, to study in master’s programmes at some of the top universities in the world.
The 14 young men and 16 young women are the latest beneficiaries of the Chevening Scholarships, funded by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
They will pursue one-year master’s degrees in journalism, law, public policy, conflict studies, energy, environment, security and good governance.
The programme provides financial support to outstanding individuals with leadership potential to study postgraduate courses at universities across the UK.
British High Commissioner to Kenya Christian Turner, while presenting the grants, emphasized the importance of education in globalisation.
“Nations wishing to swim with the tide must equip their people with the skills they need as global citizens,” he said on Wednesday evening at the scholars’ reception held at his residence in Muthaiga, Nairobi.
“Cultural fluency, linguistic confidence, a sense of being at home in a complex world — these will be the keys to national and personal success in this century.”
Mr Turner advised the scholars to focus on their studies, be good ambassadors of Kenya in the UK and the world, and return to develop their country.
“You have already triumphed in the face of intense peer competition to be selected as Chevening scholars. In this you now join an august list of Kenyan alumni, including Cabinet secretaries Amina Mohamed and Hassan Wario, and Lady Justices Njoki Ndung’u and Agnes Murgor,” he told the aspiring future leaders.
Justice Ndung’u, who was the guest speaker at the reception, studied for her Master of Laws in Human Rights and Civil Liberties at the University of Leicester in 1992.
The Supreme Court judge urged the 2015/16 scholars to read and network widely, return and serve Kenya selflessly.
“Those going to study public policy will become a critical resource in enriching the executive, the legislature and various policy think tanks and stakeholders,” she said.
The scholars, she said, should believe in Kenya, make a difference, resist the temptation of brain drain and leave lasting legacies.
Some of the scholars who talked to Nation.co.ke said they were ready to take up the challenge and make a difference.
Mr Samuel Odawo, the first ever visually impaired Kenyan to get scholarship, said he would set up a training centre to equip physically impaired young men and women with skills to help them get jobs.
“Many are locked out because they lack requisite skills like computer use and my plan is to help them access opportunities to serve,” said the student, who will pursue a Master of Arts in Management of Special Education at University of Birmingham.
A total of 430 scholars have benefitted from the Chevening programme since its inception in 1984 and this year’s is the largest delegation that has been sponsored from Kenya.
They are set to join an influential global network of over 44,000 Chevening alumni spanning over 150 countries.
The UK government and universities are spending £930,000 (Sh1.5 billion) on this year’s scholars after the Foreign and Commonwealth Office tripled the scholarships for developing countries last year.
The scholarship award comes barely a month after another 20 young Kenyans were selected to pursue postgraduate studies in the UK on the Tullow Group Scholarship Scheme run by the British Council and Tullow Oil.
The 20 scholars bring to 75 the total number of Kenyans who have benefited from the Tullow Scholarship Scheme since it was launched four years ago.
The UK is one of the biggest bilateral donors to Kenya’s education sector. It has invested £70 million (KSh 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.
The List: Chevening Scholars 2015-2016
1. Alex Macharia Maina: MA, Applied Security Strategy, University of Exeter.
2. Asha Ahmed: MA, Documentary Practices, University for the Creative Arts.
3. Benson Warutumo Muchiri: LLM, Oil and Gas Law, University of Aberdeen.
4. Clare Chepkemoi Ronoh: MSc, Energy and Environment, University of Leeds.
5. Daniella Kerubo Maroma: MSc, Sustainable Management of Natural Resources, University of Leicester.
6. David Machel Otieno Osiany: MSc, Public Policy, University of Bristol.
7. Dennis Mwangi Kibira: MSc, Renewable Energy Enterprise and Management, Newcastle University.
8. Emmaculate Asige Liaga: MA, International Politics, University of Manchester.
9. Eric Gathaara Waweru: MA, Governance and Public Policy, University of Sheffield.
10. Esther Karimi Njeru: MSc, International Development: Public Policy and Management, University of Manchester.
11. Fatma Lucy Nyambura: LLM, Mineral Law and Policy, University of Dundee.
12. Feisal Shariff Ibrahim: LLM, Petroleum Taxation and Finance, University of Dundee.
13. Grace Murithi M’Munoru: MSc, Civil Engineering, University of Nottingham.
14. Halima Ibrahim Hussein: LLM, Energy and Natural Resources Law, Queen Mary, University of London.
15. Harrison Cheng’oli Misiko: MA, Interactive Journalism, City University London.
16. Huzefa Talibhusein Hassanali Haji: MSc, in Hydrology and Climate Change at Newcastle University.
17. James Mburu Njeri: MA, Journalism, Media and Communications, Cardiff University.
18. Maureen Pamela Agutu: LLM, Tax Law, Queen Mary, University of London
19. Mercy Dorah Jelimo: MSc, International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies, London School of Economics and Political Science.
20. Michelle Mumbi Gathigi: MA, International Relations (Diplomacy), University of Birmingham.
21. Nicholas Kinoo Mutiso: MSc, Environmental Engineering, University of Nottingham.
22. Nixon Githuku Nganga: MA, Communication and Media, University of Leeds.
23. Phoebe Wafubwa Shikuku: MSc, Applied Meteorology and Climatology, University of Birmingham.
24. Ronny Mutua Mutisya: MSc, International Development: Public Policy and Management, University of Manchester.
25. Rose Wachuka Macharia: MA, Public Policy, University of Oxford.
26. Rose Auma Mosi: LLM, Energy and Natural Resources, Queen Mary, University of London.
27. Samuel Ochieng’ Odawo: MA, Management of Special Education in Developing Countries, University of Birmingham.
28. Tabitha Wacera Mbuthia: MSc, Sustainable Energy Engineering, University of Nottingham.
29. Winfred Syombua: MA, Governance and Public Policy, University of Sheffield.
30. Yussuf Bashir: LLM, Human Rights Law at Queen Mary, University of London.