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CRBC sends third batch of Kenyan students to study in China

By Edith Mutethya | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-04-21 01:23

China's ambassador to Kenya Liu Xianfa (seated forth from left) and Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Transport James Macharia (seated fifth from left) and other government pose with scholarship winners during a farewell party in Nairobi. [Liu Hongjie/China Daily]

Four years of railway studies lie ahead for scholarship winners

China Road and Bridge Cooperation (CRBC), the official contractor of Kenya's Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), has awarded 40 full scholarships to Kenyan students to pursue undergraduate railway courses in China, in an effort to support local skills development.

The students are the final group of a cohort of 100 students whose studies CRBC has pledged to sponsor at Beijing Jiaotong University (BJTU), one of China's top railway training institutions.

An initial batch of 23 high school graduates went to BJTU in 2016, followed by 35 more the next year, with 40 more about to join now, following a recruitment process which began last December and drew 295 applications.

Speaking during their send-off party at Nairobi's Intercontinental Hotel, James Macharia, the Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development, thanked CRBC for its continued support.

He said the need for Kenya to train its own people in specialist railway courses emerged from the realization that the country lacked sufficient skilled staff to fully operate the SGR project.

"We therefore undertook a deliberate decision to develop local capacity to provide those skills needed immediately and in future as well as increase capacity to develop the entire railway system," Macharia said.

He congratulated the students and drew particular attention to the fact that 13 of the 40 students were female, observing that the field of science and technology is no longer regarded as a male-only area.

Government and embassy officials bid farewell to the scholarship winners at the party in Nairob. [Liu Hongjie/China Daily]

Speaking at the same event, Li Xianfa, China's ambassador to Kenya, said a country will be full of hope and have a great tomorrow only when its younger generation has ideals, ability and a strong sense of responsibility.

"You are the hope of Kenya. I hope and believe that you will overcome every challenge and get good grades, so as to live up to what your parents and country expect of you. I also hope that you will learn the Chinese language and culture, try Chinese cuisine, make Chinese friends, and of course be ambassadors of your country to introduce Kenya to more Chinese people," he said.

He urged the students to return to Kenya after their courses so the country could make use of their new skills, whilst also encouraging them to further China-Kenya cooperation and friendship.

Li Qiang, the general manager or CRBC, congratulated them on their success and encouraged them to study hard while enjoying life in Beijing.

He also said the construction of the Mombasa-Nairobi SGR project had created more than 46,000 jobs for the local community, with more than 20,000 of those employees being technically trained.

One of the scholarship winners, James Chira, said he was grateful to CRBC for giving him an opportunity to further his studies.

"Through your generous assistance, less fortunate students like me have the chance to chase their dreams and make a difference in other people's lives," he said. "We shall strive to maintain and even exceed the set standards as our brothers and sisters from China."

The CRBC scholarship program began in March 2016 as part of a major cooperation plan proposed by China's President Xi Jinping and Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Li Qiang (left) exchanges a signed scholarship agreement with Josephine Masibo, human resources and administration manager of Kenya Railways. James Macharia, Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Liu Xianfa, China's ambassador to Kenya, stands at the back with a student representative in the centre. [Liu Hongjie/China Daily]

The students who are already on the course are doing well. One of the first batch came third in last year's CRBC Chinese speech competition, and two others were rewarded for being outstanding students.

Each of the second batch of students has passed Grade 4 of Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK, Mandarin Chinese Grade Examination) and will soon start their railway engineering studies.

For the first two years of their studies, students learn the Chinese language and culture and study natural sciences. For the latter half of the course, they will have a special railway curriculum including topics such as advanced mathematics, physics, engineering, mechanics and construction organization, as well as practical sessions. When they have passed all the elements of the course, the students will graduate with Bachelor of Engineering degrees.

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