NAIROBI, Kenya Nov 9 – Kenya is immensely benefiting from the transfer of skills from China following the high number of Kenyan students graduating from universities there, with hundreds more getting scholarships annually.
Every year, the Chinese government sponsors students from several universities in Kenya to undertake studies in China on various fields.
On completion of their studies, these students come back to Kenya with skills and academic credentials acquired in China which enable them to seek for jobs. There are also those who get jobs in China or other countries after their studies that range from undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.
“The sponsorships from the Chinese government has really helped many Kenyans,” said Dr Henry Rotich, Chairman of the Kenya-China Alumni association that brings together all students who are studying or studied in China under the Chinese-government scholarships, “It is the best way to transfer skills.”
Dr Rotich is himself an alumni, having studied in China more than ten years ago.
“We have students who have undertaken various courses, including Medicine, Business courses, engineering among others,” he said, “the quality of education in China is very high and it makes it easy for those who studied in China to be absorbed locally.
Some of the graduands work as translators for the Chinese language while others work in Chinese companies in Kenya including the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR)-Kenya’s largest infrastructure project since independence.
Last week, the Chinese Embassy in Nairobi organized a trip for the alumni members to Mombasa for a bonding session.
Accompanied by some Members of Parliament, the alumni members were first taken to the SGR’s Operations and Control centre located at the main Nairobi terminus before they embarked on their trip to Mombasa. It also included a visit to the port where they were taken through the process of cargo clearance and haulage to Nairobi through the SGR.
“This is a very good opportunity for us to come together and network,” Dr Rotich said, hailing the Chinese Embassy for assembling them. There were more than 50 alumni members on the trip.
Joseph Maritim, another beneficiary of the Chinese Government scholarship, said he went to China in 1982 to undertake his studies as one of the pioneers.
Just like the rest of the alumni members, Maritim is happy to have been granted the sponsorship to study Civil Engineering which, he said, helped him learn the Chinese language.
“Since graduating from China, I have worked in various sectors while utilizing my skills which have really helped me,” Maritim said during the trip to Mombasa.
Maritim confesses that apart from academic qualifications, he learnt the Chinese culture of working very hard to complete any task.
“I can tell you these (Chinese) people are different,” he said, “Chinese people have a totally different work ethics. I learnt this from them and I can say that it has really helped me because of the commitment they dedicate at work.”
Mercy Muthoni, an alumni who studied the Chinese language at the University of Nairobi’s Confucius Institute in 2009 before she got a scholarship to further her studies in China says she has never regretted.
“It is the best decision I made. I was one of the lucky people because we saw this way before people knew that we were going to have this co-existence with Chinese,” she said, “I learned a lot (in China) and now I am using it here.”
Muthoni works as a translator. She also teaches the Chinese language on a one-on-one basis.
“We are helping bridge the gap between China and Kenya in terms of language barrier and this helps investors and even tourists,” she said, and urged more Kenyan students to enroll for the Chinese language classes.
Huang Xueqing, who heads the Communications and Public Affairs Department at the Chinese Embassy said the trip was aimed at bringing the alumni members together.
Every year, the Chinese government through the embassy in Nairobi awards Kenyans students with scholarships to undertake studies in China.
More than 200 students were awarded scholarships in August this year and are already undertaking studies in various provinces in China.