Speech

Chevening Farewell Reception for 2015/2016 Kenyan scholars

Speech by High Commissioner Dr Christian Turner CMG

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.

Promoting British education is one of the most satisfying things that I get to do as High Commissioner. I truly believe there is no better place than Britain to experience a university education.

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.

This year, as in each of the last thirty plus, the Chevening programme will enable outstanding Kenyans with leadership potential to study postgraduate courses at universities across the UK. This evening we celebrate the 30 departing scholars embarking upon their respective UK adventures. 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, and Lady Justices Njoki Ndung’u and Agnes Murgor, Mr. James Ndegwa, Chairman of ICEA Lion Insurance & Capital Markets Authority, Hon. Dahir Duale Mohamed, MP.

I think you may consider yourself in good company. You will also become part of an influential global network of over 44,000 Chevening alumni spanning over 150 countries, the value of which should not be underestimated.

Last year, we were delighted to mark Chevening’s 30th year by tripling the number of global scholarships that were available. We anticipate to offer a similar amount of funding for scholarships for the 2016/17 academic year. The application window is currently open, and candidates have until 3rd November to apply.

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 £70 million (KSh 11.2 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.

Last month it was also announced an additional 20 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. 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.

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.

At University level, nearly a quarter of young Kenyans looking to study abroad choose the UK. Some of these benefit from hard earned scholarships, and should be roundly congratulated for doing so. Let’s try something – can anyone here who has ever been awarded a UK scholarship please give yourself a round of applause.

Congratulations to you all. But it’s worth noting that the vast majority of Kenyan students are going under their own steam – motivated by their desire for learning and development. 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 and future of this wonderful country.

To those departing, I wish you all the very best. Make the most of your opportunities, and enjoy what the UK has to offer. To those who have returned, of whatever vintage, thank you for your continued friendship - and for all that you have done over the years to make your country proud.

Thank you.

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Speech by the Guest of Honour, Hon. Lady Justice Njoki Ndungu, Justice of the Supreme Court of Kenya and a Chevening Alumni

The British High Commissioner to Kenya, Dr. Christian Turner, distinguished guests, scholars, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great pleasure to address the young leaders leaving to various universities in the United Kingdom on the prestigious Chevening scholarship. Before all else, let me congratulate you for winning the scholarship. You have triumphed in a highly competitive but deeply satisfying process. Let me also thank the British Government for investing in the future of our youth through education. This year marks the largest number of Chevening scholars from Kenya and notably even within the region. This is a clear indication of the strong alliance and partnership between Kenya and the United Kingdom.

I was a beneficiary of this scholarship and a scholar at the University of Leicester where I attained an LL.M in Human Rights and Civil Liberties. This scholarship was a turning point both in my personal and professional life. It exposed me to a culture of excellence, free thought and expression, setting me on the path of fearless public service. You have been identified as young people who have great leadership, skills and potential for transformation. I am sure most of you have not realised how special you are. This country needs you to take on your inevitable leadership roles in government, the public and private sectors as well as civil society.

I know it has been an engaging, intense year-long application process involving college applications, language tests, interviews and the visa application process. Great opportunities seldom come easy. The fact that you are present at this pre-departure event is a clear indication that you are ready for the task that awaits you in the United Kingdom during your study and here, after your scholarship year. Allow me to address you on three critical tenets of this scholarship: leadership, networking and service.

a) Leadership

I am a great believer in the difference young people can make to the fate of their country. Our country’s evolution under our transformative Constitution offers immense opportunities for leadership in all spheres of our society. Investing in young people is the fulcrum upon which the greatness of our nation to serve its people and work with our partners will be realised. This is therefore a fitting occasion to call your attention to your responsibility to take on leadership roles in your various fields of study.

You will be specialising in different fields. Those heading out to study public policy will be a critical resource in enriching the Executive, Legislature and various policy think tank organisations and stakeholders.

Those specialising in oil, gas and natural resources will contribute to the sustainable exploration of these resources for the benefit of our economy.

Those in communication and mass media will inject the much needed breadth into broadcast and other forms of journalism ensuring that we have an opportunity to professionally shape the narrative of our nation and illuminate the untold stories of success and prosperity.

Those heading out to study climatology and climate related sciences will serve as great negotiators for our country as heads of public, private, and civil society delegations to important climate summits and above all, advisors on how best to reduce our emissions as well as mitigate and adapt to the dire consequences of a changing climate.

Those pursuing development, peace, conflict and diplomacy will be an instrumental force in restoring stability within the region. The Chevening network will provide an opportunity to network with scholars from Somalia, South Sudan and the Sudan, Eritrea and Djibouti in ensuring that the region finds lasting peace and stability.

Those in pursuit of the law will be embraced by the legal fraternity in both the Bar and the Bench. For example, we have a vibrant group of Chevening alumni working in the Judiciary including the Chief of Staff in the Office of the Chief Justice, Mr. Duncan Okello and the Director of Public Affairs and Communication, Mr Naim Bilal. We also have a vibrant law clerkship and research institution in the Supreme Court that has contributed immensely to the evolution of our jurisprudence. One of our Law Clerks, Rose Wachuka, is amongst you, and we hope to welcome her and the rest of you back to continue in the work of Government or within the Private Sector institutions that contribute to the development of our political economy and democracy.

So there will be numerous opportunities for you when you get back. The question is; are you ready to take up these opportunities and contribute to the leadership of this country?

b) Networking

You have demonstrated that you have ambition, drive and leadership potential. These qualities have set you apart in a highly competitive process and presented you with a unique and incredible opportunity to be a part of a global network of others like yourselves. You share the vision of a future free from injustice and war; a future where excellence is rewarded and mediocrity remedied; where people’s rights and freedoms are upheld and protected; where people can speak their minds online and offline, and be treated with dignity and respect by their peers and authorities; where good governance and the rule of law operate as complimentary norms.

You share in the patriotic passion to impart change in your respective countries and communities. Make use of these cross cutting values on 17th October, 2015 when you meet at ExCel centre in London for your orientation event. Make the deliberate and conscientious choice to forge lasting alliances aimed at improving the conditions in your respective fields.

Multiply the worth of the British Government’s and your institution’s investment in your education by passionately pursuing causes that improve other people’s lives. Innovate, activate and engage. Seek out opportunities and guide others through this unique path that you have chosen. Embrace diversity and respect personal choice. Allow yourself to thrive in unfamiliar territory but remember to keep warm during the brutal but beautiful months of winter. Save as much as you can and cultivate the discipline to buy books instead of boots.

Be bold and express your Kenyan identity gallantly and proudly. Read and stay informed. Take advantage of this opportunity. Be curious, interact and learn from other cultures. Ask questions. Visit each other and experience the United Kingdom and its people. Romanticise England and most of all; make sure you graduate with the highest honours, if possible. And please, don’t forget to have fun!

c) Service

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Mahatma Gandi

Remember to serve humanity with humility and verve. Take on tasks with little expectation of reward or recognition. Do it from your heart. Walk where others have often avoided. Dare to be different. It is incredibly self-fulfilling and satisfying to make a difference by exhibiting selfless service even without the need to be recognised as great or outstanding. Find a cause worth dying for and give it your best. Leave a legacy for future generations to remember you by. Most of all do not lose faith in the greatness of your country and continent. Every year, Africa loses thousands of its most brilliant minds to other continents in unprecedented waves of brain drain. One of the greatest aspects of this scholarship is the emphasis to serve your own country upon completion.

You will appreciate the state of development in the United Kingdom. Let that experience awaken your passion to ensure that Kenya gets to that point. We are not actually that far behind.

Do volunteer. It’s a great way to gain experience in the ways of the world. Make use of your university foreign student services. Engage in the student leadership of the Universities you are attending. Make the most out of this Chevening year to ensure that the experience is a ‘walk to remember.’

And remember, this country waits for your return. So even if you forget everything else I have said here tonight, just remember that Kenya truly needs you.

My research indicates that there are those who have already left. Pass my special regards to Asha, Benson, Feisal and Fatma and avail to them a copy of these remarks.

Thanks you very much, travel safe, and I look forward to your safe return. God bless you all.