Kenyan scholars based in the US and Canada have resolved to collaborate with the Kenya government to improve educational standards in Kenya.
The scholars, who were meeting in Atlanta, Georgia during the annual Kenya Scholars and Studies Association (KESSA) on September 6-9, 2018, resolved to work with the government to launch the proposed Kenya Diaspora Fellowship Program that would create structures that would facilitate the remittance of diaspora skills to Kenya.
“This vehicle, along with the proposed, Kenya Diaspora Investment Program, would revolutionize diaspora contributions to Kenya’s development. Both would be good legacy programs for President Uhuru Kenyatta who was also once a member of the Kenyan Diaspora in the USA. For this reason, the President is especially appreciative of the role of the diaspora in the Kenyan economy”. Said Prof. Kefa Otiso, a founder member of KESSA.
The resolution came after Prof Mwenda Ntarangwi, CEO/Secretary for Commission for University Education (CUE) appealed to KESSA members and other diaspora scholars to roll up their sleeves and work with their Kenyan colleagues to improve education and research standards in Kenyan universities.
Prof. Ntarangwi noted in his speech that while Kenya has a long way to go in meeting the demand for tertiary education, existing universities have to be rationalized to avoid unnecessary program duplication, resource wastage, and production of graduates that are not well matched with existing market needs.
“By virtue of being Deans and Presidents of different departments in your respective Universities in North America, you have unique and specific insights and experiences that could prove very helpful in our efforts to revamp our educational system and institutions” He said. Prof Ntarangwi is also using his current presence in the US to create partnerships between US and Kenyan universities.
Prof Joseph Kieyah, Chairman, National Taskforce on Coffee Sub-Sector Reforms, Office of the President lauded KESSA’s vision and mission and asked its members and other members of Diaspora to help Kenya’s coffee sector by conducting market research for and by drinking Kenyan coffee while marketing it in the US.
Kenyan Ambassador to the US, Robinson Githae highlighted the need for the diaspora to help create stronger ties between Kenya and diaspora children in order to secure Kenya’s benefits from the diaspora in the long term.
The conference, which was partially sponsored by Kenya Airways, lauded the airline’s upcoming direct flights to the US and resolved to support it by using its services and by helping to market the airline throughout the US Amb. Githae noted that the upcoming KQ service to the US was one of his crowning successes as Kenyan ambassador to the US. Diasporans wishing to book tickets on the upcoming direct KQ flights between the US and Kenya can do so here: https://www.kenya-airways.com/plan-and-book/search-and-book/book-flight….
Kenya Airways representative, Ms. Jennifer Njuguna announced that the airline will be offering special ticket discounts to students and scholars flying between Kenya and the US. The airline donated a raffle ticket that was won by Prof. Lamech Onsarigo.
The 11th KESSA conference was held at the Atlanta Marriott Marques and had the highest attendance ever for the organization. It attracted attendees from the USA, Kenya and Canada. The main keynote speaker was Prof Sherine Obare, Associate Vice-President for Research at Western Michigan University.
In the student presentation competition, Joash Geteregechi and Vanessa Kishasha took first place, Josephine Mwangi second place, Daniel Mwania and Michelle Wambua third place, while Margaret Gichane received an outstanding contribution award for her publishing as a graduate student professional development seminar. While Joash Geteregechi’s presentation was on Opportunities for Reasoning and Proof in Form 2 Mathematics Textbooks in Kenya, Vanessa Kishasha spoke on the Evaluation of Raw Glycerol as a Substrate for Lipid Production by the Oleaginous Yeast Yarrowia Lipolytica, Josephine Mwangi talked about Kenya’s Health System After Devolution, Daniel Mwania discussed the Distribution and Density of the Invasive Plant Species, Prosopis Juliflora, in the Western Turkana Region of Northern Kenya and Michelle Wambua, in her co-authored paper with Crispin Ojwang, focused on Investigating Students’ Perceptions of Effective Feedback Strategies that Support Their Learning.
The meeting also ushered in a new executive leadership team consisting of Profs. Wycliffe Simiyu, Jerono Rotich, Wakiuru Wamwara, and Christine Mathenge. The meeting also celebrated the 11-year leadership and service of KESSA’s founders Profs. Kefa Otiso, Charles Manyara, Maurice Amutabi, and Francis Koti. Under their leadership, KESSA has grown tremendously in membership and influence and has become one of the leading Kenyan diaspora organizations in the US.