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Bursary kitty: varsity students want in Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by kenya, Kenya Nov 22, 2007
Human Rights , Education , Globalization   Opinions


The Kenyan government initiative to offer free and compulsory primary education to all was a noble idea and the recent one to waive secondary schools tuition fee was even a grater one and the power wielders of the have proved true to the saying that wisdom comes with power as eloquently put by Albert Einstein. It is obvious to predict the next area of concern will be the tertiary level education (University plus Colleges), this area needs serious strategies.

A trip down memory lane when high education was a privilege of a few and brain power was the SI unit of success – one Thomas Joseph Mboya a Ruskin College graduate commonly known as TJ Mboya – a young, brilliant and iconic leader a centre of fascinating drama and an indefatigable fighter for noble ideas of freedom, independence and social progress, peace and friendship. He was Kenya’s version of JF Kennedy both by brilliance and charisma, he helped in coordinating and organizing funds to enable education thirsty African boys and girls secure a place in the prestigious American Universities and Colleges in what famously came to be known as the Mboya airlifts before his life was rudely cut short – RIP Mboya we will always carry you in our memories for the whole of our lives , we shall never be able to forget the fever of life we experienced besides you – you truly had a love affair with education.

Then there was Odinga Snr. The then dogma of opposition politics was exploding with “the positive African envy” and through his pet project – the Lumumba Institute (named after the late DR Congo president Patrice Lumumba (RIP) the greatest African socialist (read communist) was facilitating sending of young Kenyans to explore the Russian’s genius in the former Soviet Union - The “Odinga Boys” as they were branded out of political malice. All these initiatives brought a bird’s eye view to our government policies and international touch in our endeavours to shine in international debates, the country experienced a brain bonus or brain gain to quote Professor Ali Mazrui JKUAT University Chancellor. Some the beneficiaries make up the fabric of the great leadership of this country namely Prof. Saitoti, Engineer Raila Odinga, Dr Adhu Awiti, Dr Oburu (an economist) and many more you would require a microscope to view their names but a telescope to trace their careers.

My point is that Kenya boasts the best brains in the world. This is reflected by the huge number of Kenyan students flooding universities abroad for further studies and statistics indicate that they excelling in their respective fields of study but hey there is a catch – money –Those who are cash strapped say money is the root cause of all evils while the rich say money can buy everything except poverty.

There is need to establish an education kitty/ trust fund like the Higher Education Loans Board whereby the money given will facilitate university studies abroad and the students who will have scored a mean grade of A plain in the KCSE exams can be assisted to compete with other top brains in MIT, Oxford, Princeton, Cambridge and other crème del crème institutions including our own Makerere, Cairo, Dar es salaam universities, this will increase the university intake and also encourage students with lower grades i.e. B’s to take up Medicine and Engineering courses.

The big question would be brain drain but in a country with high levels of human resources we can start exporting brains who will be encouraged to invest at home by entrenching dual citizenship in the constitution, taxing the beneficiaries salaries would be a vital income for the government.

In my opinion a tentative amount of 2 Billion yearly would take care of top 100 students ( the number with A plains plus an additional 50 students from marginalized areas like North Eastern and North Rift areas) Each taking an average of a 5 year course but with an additional clause for them to return and work in the country for not less than 6 years or if they choose to work abroad (brain bonus) then a sizeable deduction should be made to their salaries and ploughed back to the kitty.

Finally, our renowned international scholars in the Diaspora can help in mobilizing funds, seeking admissions slots for the students and so on. Namely Prof. Ali Mazrui Director of IGCS the Albert Schweitzer Prof in Humanities. political studies and philosophy, Prof Makau Mutua Prof of Law and Director of Human Rights Centre of State University of NY at Buffalo School of Law, Prof Calistus Juma Prof of the practice of International Development at HAVARD UNIVERSITY and the Director of the Science, Technology and Global Project at Belfer Centre for science and International Affairs The list is endless.



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