Sixty-seven Kenyan students with full scholarships from the Chinese government are leaving for China with expectations of being "messengers" and "ambassadors" who will help strengthen communications between the two countries.
China has been offering scholarships to Kenya annually since 1982. Currently, there are more than 200 Kenyan students studying at Chinese universities under various categories of the Chinese Government Scholarships, covering almost all majors at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels.
"Education has always been a key area for our sound co-operation," said Chinese Ambassador Liu Xianfa to Kenya at a pre-departure gathering for the students held on Tuesday. They will leave for China as early as Wednesday.
"It is my sincere hope that you could learn Chinese language and culture, make Chinese friends, and, of course, at the same time be messengers and ambassadors of your country to introduce Kenya to more Chinese people, and devote yourself to facilitating the exchanges and co-operation and promoting the friendship between our two countries," said Liu.
Belio Kipsang, principal secretary of Kenya's Ministry of Education, expressed his gratitude to the Chinese government at the ceremony, and said he hopes the students, as ambassadors, could bring that "knowledge" and also "resources" back to Kenya.
"I sincerely thank the Chinese ambassador and Chinese people for the opportunities they offer to us to study in their country," Kipsang said.
He referred to the students as "67 ambassadors" who will "be able to attract more of the resources" and knowledge Kenya requires back to Kenya.
Kipsang also said "the best investment in your people and your children is investment in knowledge", which he believes will bring a great return.
One of the scholarship awardees is Alinur Abdi, who will study medicine at Peking University. The 20-year-old son of farmers has eight siblings, and he said raising them has been stressful for his parents.
Abdi said he has been dreaming of studying in China since 2011 when he started high school. "China is a global power. It will give me opportunity to meet people at global level and international level," he said.
"Without that scholarship, I don't think it's possible to study in China," said the Muslim, explaining that the reason is his parents are taking care of his siblings, all of whom are in school."In terms of finance, they are a bit poor. It's my pleasure to thank the Chinese government to offer me this opportunity to study in China," he said.
Juliet Wanza Ndavi from Likipia University will study computer science at Jiangsu University.
The 19-year-old's father is a police officer and her mother is a housewife. She said she couldn't study in China without the scholarship. "Being given scholarship, I am very happy and grateful," she said.