Feature: China-funded Scholarships Reawaken Career Dreams of Kenyan Youth

NAIROBI, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) — Kenya's Ibrahim Osman was exposed to the vagaries of life at a tender age, having been born in the semi-arid Mandera County where natural disasters and inter-communal hostilities over grazing land and water points are the norm.

The 18-year-old son of an elderly pastoralist from northern Kenya was determined to pursue formal education despite myriad obstacles, aware that it could open new opportunities in future.

Osman was among 140 Kenyan youth who benefited from this year's scholarships funded by the Chinese government to pursue elite disciplines like law, medicine and engineering in the Asian giant's leading universities.

Speaking to Xinhua at a pre-departure ceremony for beneficiaries of China-funded scholarships on Thursday, Osman was upbeat a degree in clinical medicine will transform his life and that of communities in the remote corners of northern Kenya.

"As a son of a cattle herder, I'm accustomed to life's drudgeries hence my determination to study hard in school and achieve my childhood dream of becoming a doctor. The opportunity to study in China is golden and will have a positive bearing in my future and that of my community," Osman said.

He graduated from high school last year and was among top scorers in national exams and was alerted by a mutual friend to apply for a scholarship funded by the Chinese government early this year.

"The thought of being selected for the Chinese government scholarship program sounded like a mirage in the beginning since I had minimal interaction with the rest of the world," said Osman.

He vowed to utilize his study tour in China to gain insight on a rich culture while acquiring knowledge on the latest discoveries in medicine.

At the same time, Osman said he will relocate back to Kenya after completing his under-graduate degree in clinical medicine and contribute to the transformation of health sector in the country.

"More importantly, I look forward to providing badly-needed health services in my locality where poverty, broken infrastructure, insecurity and harsh terrain have conspired to worsen the disease burden," Osman said.

Kenyan youth who benefited from this year's China-funded scholarships will start their under-graduate and post-graduate degree courses soon.

They were selected through a competitive process and will in future join the rank of highly skilled professionals the East African Nation is counting on to power its industrial progress.

Wamuca Kimani, a 24-year-old law graduate in a local private university was delighted to secure a scholarship to study for a masters in international law at Xiamen University in East China's Fujian province.

The ambitious youth has always dreamt of a career in diplomacy or international commerce and hopes that an opportunity to study in China will bring him nearer to the goal.

"I was elated upon learning that I had been selected to study in China for a masters in international law under a fully funded government scholarship scheme. My parents and siblings too are excited about this new milestone," Kimani told Xinhua.

Her longtime friend, Vanessa Atieno was also excited by the prospect of joining Beijing-based Communication University of China where she will pursue a post-graduate degree in communications.

The 23-year-old daughter of middle class urban professionals intends to utilize her study tour in China to forge long-term friendships, improve proficiency in spoken mandarin and sample globally acclaimed cuisine in her new abode.

"Like everyone else, am delighted to join a prestigious university in China and pursue a career that I have always cherished since childhood. I hope to land a job in an international media agency upon finishing the masters degree," said Atieno.

Paul Muisyo, a 36-year-old government worker, likened the opportunity to study in China for a masters degree program in business administration to a leap into a bright new dawn.

"Given my humble background, it would have been unimaginable that one day I would board a plane and head to a foreign land for further studies. The Chinese government scholarship will fulfill my long-cherished dream of becoming a successful entrepreneur," said Muisyo.

The Chinese government has been offering annual scholarship to Kenyan youth to pursue courses of their choice since the two countries formalized diplomatic ties decades ago.

Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Liu Xianfa disclosed that Beijing has so far provided about 1,000 government scholarships to Kenyan students in a bid to upgrade their skills and enhance their ability to survive in a fiercely competitive job market.

"This year, we are providing 128 scholarships of different types to young Kenyan students," said Liu, adding that Chinese firms have also been at the forefront in providing technical skills to Kenyan youth.

From Xinhua