Speech

2014/2015 Kenya Chevening Scholarship winners send off reception

This speech was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Speech by High Commissioner Dr Christian Turner

Habari za jioni. Karibuni sana.

Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen,

It’s a great pleasure to see so many past and future Chevening scholars here this evening. You are all most welcome.

We are here today to celebrate Education, and our investment in Education. On the former, I’d like to begin with the old Chinese proverb that ‘learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere’. Education is truly, in the words of Nelson Mandela, ‘the great engine of personal development’. However, translating this development onto a national level requires investment – and lots of it. As a wise man once said, ‘education costs money… but then so does ignorance’.

This year, as in each of the last thirty, the Chevening programme will enable outstanding Kenyans with leadership potential to study postgraduate courses at universities across the UK. This evening we celebrate the eight departing scholars embarking upon their respective UK adventures. Peter, James, Mugure, Peter Ochieng, Joy, Collins, Samson and Mohammed; 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 Mohammed and Hassan Wario; Lady Justices Njoki Ndung’u and Agnes Murgor; Betty Maina; John Ekuru Aukot; Joe Ageyo and Michael Mumo to name but a few.

I think you may consider yourself in good company. You will also become part of an influential global network of over 43,000 Chevening alumni spanning over 150 countries, the value of which should not be underestimated.

I am particularly excited to be able to mark Chevening’s 30th year by confirming that the number of global scholarships is set to triple in 2015/16, expanding its reach to more than 1500 individuals worldwide. This means that in addition to the eight outstanding scholars we have here this evening, around a further thirty Kenyan scholars are expected to benefit from the programme in the next academic year. The application window is currently open, and candidates have until November 15th to apply.

The UK is fortunate to have some of the best academic institutions in the world. Four of the top six universities in the world are in the UK, according to the QS World University Rankings. We are delighted to be able share the best of what the UK has to offer with you.

No country can afford to be an island in the 21st century. Globalisation is a force changing almost every aspect of life, and Education is at the heart of that change. Nations wishing to swim with the tide must equip their people with the skills they need as global citizens. 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.

The UK and Kenya are resolute in our shared commitment to education. Kenya invests over 20% of the national budget in education. Chevening is a key part of our work to further deepen the strong cultural and educational ties between the Kenyan and British people. We are proud of our longstanding and substantial educational links with Kenya. The UK will invest £25.2 million (KSh 3.7 billion) in Kenyan education during the period 2012 – 15 through UK Aid programmes. This money goes to the heart of the educational challenges facing Kenyans today – improving access to and quality of education for all children, no matter where they were born, or to which gender. The UK is also providing in excess of an extra KSh 4.4 billion through the ‘Girls’ Education Challenge fund’ to support girls’ education in Kenya – making UK Aid the largest bilateral donor to primary education.

This week it was also announced an additional 34 young Kenyans have been selected to pursue postgraduate studies at some of the UK’s finest Universities via the Tullow Group Scholarship Scheme – run by the British Council in partnership with Tullow Oil. They will be joining an estimated 450,000 foreign students who choose the UK as a study destination every year – including more than 2,000 Kenyans. What I find especially pleasing is that increasingly Kenyan students in Britain are pursuing courses of relevance to the development of Kenya, bringing their new skills and knowledge back to Kenya to contribute to the growth of this wonderful country.

Thank you.

Pictures of the event here