Feature: China-funded scholarships inspire Kenyan youth to transform society
NAIROBI, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- Terry Murage grew up in a middle class suburb in the Kenyan capital Nairobi where the virtues of hard work, self-reliance and community service were inculcated in her at a tender age.
Murage's parents, who are already retired, were instrumental in shaping the character of the 23-year-old tourism major who has vowed to utilize skills gained in class to make a positive impact in her immediate society.
The vivacious youngster, who is studying Chinese language as an optional course at the University of Nairobi's Confucius Institute, is a beneficiary of this year's Chinese government-funded scholarships.
"I felt excited upon learning that I will be in this year's cohort of Kenyan students who will be granted scholarships by the Chinese government to pursue careers of their dreams," said Murage.
"The scholarship will definitely help me realize the dream of establishing a tour firm and provide employment to young people," she added.
She was among 182 beneficiaries of Chinese government scholarships who attended a farewell reception organized by the Chinese Embassy in Kenya on Tuesday.
Murage is slated to join Tianjin Normal University where she will undertake a one year undergraduate program in Chinese language.
"At least the undergraduate program will provide a platform to boost my proficiency in Chinese language," said Murage.
"I look forward to tour different parts of China, interact with people, make new friends and sample the country's famous delicacies," she added.
Kenyan beneficiaries of the Chinese government scholarships will join some of the leading universities in the Asian country to pursue disciplines like engineering, law and medicine.
Zhao Xiyuan, minister counsellor at the Chinese Embassy in Kenya said during the farewell reception the scholarships are an integral part of Beijing's bilateral cooperation with Nairobi in education, technology and culture.
"In pursuing the Belt and Road Initiative, China is working closely with Kenya and other countries in all fields including establishing a multilateral mechanism for cultural and people-to-people exchanges," said Zhao.
"We are boosting educational cooperation and increasing the number of exchange programs for students," he added.
Zhao said that more than 2,400 Kenyan students are currently studying in China thanks to the blossoming cooperation between the two countries in the field of education.
Kenyan officials said that Chinese government scholarships awarded to local students since 1982 have provided skilled workforce required to hasten the country's industrial take off.
Tom Amolo, political and diplomatic secretary in the ministry of foreign affairs said the government values China-funded scholarships that have boosted efforts to bridge skills gap in the country.
"We hope the recipients of Chinese government scholarships will acquire the skills required to transform this country in every sphere," said Amolo.
Kenyan youngsters agreed that an opportunity to pursue higher education in China would enhance their contribution to economic growth and social renewal in their motherland.
William Kedienye, a 28-year-old mechanical engineering major who is currently employed by Kenya's main power utility, said he felt honored to be granted an opportunity to pursue post graduate studies at the Harbin Institute of Technology.
"Am very excited by this rare but precious opportunity to undertake my postgraduate studies in China. The scholarship will enable me acquire skills, gain exposure and forge lasting friendships," said Kedienye.
He said that advanced skills acquired in China will enable him contribute to infrastructure modernization in Kenya.
John Odhiambo, a lecturer at Technical University of Mombasa said that an opportunity to study a post graduate degree in biomedical engineering at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology, will be a game changer.
"Even my extended family members were thrilled when they learnt that I am about to undertake further studies in China. This is once in a lifetime opportunity that I intend to utilize optimally to add value to our country's health care sector," said Odhiambo.
He said the Chinese government scholarships will boost Kenya's efforts to bridge skills gap in the field of biomedical engineering that is key to tackle the emerging burden of non-communicable diseases.
Samuel Chege, current chairman of Kenya Student Association in Beijing, said that China has become a favorite destination for Kenyan youth keen to pursue higher education in marketable disciplines like medicine, ICT, engineering, finance and diplomacy.
"Chinese scholarships have inspired our youth to transform the society through enterprise, technology and innovations," said Chege who is pursuing a post graduate degree in enterprise development at the University of Science and Technology Beijing.