Sh4.7 billion US windfall for Kenyan education

Biden Ruto

Kenya President William Ruto and US President Joe Biden during their talks at White house on May 23, 2024. 

Photo credit: PSC

What you need to know:

  • Most of the other programmes to be supported are in higher education.
  • US government to provide Sh65m to support the development of Kenyan students.

President William Ruto has struck deals for the education sector worth USD 36.15 (Sh4,746,495,000) for programmes in basic and higher education during his State visit to the US.

The biggest beneficiary is the Kenya Primary Literacy Programme (KPLP) which will get USD24.5 million (Sh3,216,850,000) from USAID.

The programme is a new five-year nationwide early grade literacy activity implemented to all public primary schools and select 1,500 low-cost private schools to improve literacy in English and Kiswahili. USAID implements the programme popularly known as Tusome, in partnership with Kenya’s Ministry of Education. It targets learners in Grade 1, 2 and 3.

Most of the other programmes to be supported are in higher education including an exchange programme reminiscent of the airlifts of the 1950s and 1960s that were initiated by Tom Mboya and John F Kennedy.

“As the United States and Kenya celebrate 60 years of bilateral relations, and recalling the positive and enduring impact of the Kennedy-era student airlift, the newly announced Kennedy-Mboya Partnerships support a new scholarship programme that promotes intellectual, academic, and innovative exchange,” reads a brief from the White House. 

To that effect, the US government has given USD3.3 million (Sh433,290,000) for programme through which sixty Kenyan undergraduate students will travel to the US to study for a semester, with a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). 

The US government alsointends to provide USD500,000 (Sh65,650,000) to support the development of Kenyan students, scientists, researchers, and engineers by encouraging US universities to increase investment in relationships with Kenyan universities and research institutions. 

“Faculty and research collaboration are planned to bolster the programme, supported by Fulbright specialists to provide additional expertise,” reads the brief.

Additionally, the governments of Kenya and the United States, in collaboration with Microsoft, Mastercard’s Center for Inclusive Growth, Howard University, Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, and Morehouse College announced the establishment of EDTECH Africa. 

The initiative is an educational exchange programme Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Kenyan Universities.

Microsoft will invest USD500,000 (Sh65,650,000) to support HBCU and Kenyan students engaged in research at the Microsoft Africa Research Institute (MARI) in Nairobi. USAID will chip in with USD850,000 (111,605,000) to facilitate this partnership between HBCUs and Kenyan universities.

Additionally, the National Science Foundation (NSF)committed to offer workshops, planning grants, or supplements to US universities.

Together with Kenyan universities, they will jointly identify research foci, and facilitate collaboration in research, education, and workforce development.

USAID also announced USD6.5 million (Sh853,450,000) grant to support a partnership between Edison State Community College in Piqua, Ohio, and Kenya’s United States International University of Africa to strengthen 40 Kenyan technical vocational education and training (TVET) institutions in information and communications technology (ICT) and manufacturing of pharmaceuticals and textiles.

The two governments also signed a Framework for Cooperation to support higher education partnerships for STEM education.

“The framework fosters higher education partnerships and commitments to partner private sector stakeholders, Kenyan institutions, and US institutions to build mutual capacity in information and computer technology, microchip manufacturing, and other STEM-related education and career opportunities,” the brief reads.

Mid-career government officials will also benefit from a new fellowship programme at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. The programme aims at equipping leaders across the continent with policy and technical expertise

“In recognition of the technology sector leadership demonstrated by both the Kenyan public and private sector, Kenya is the first country to be added to the inaugural fellowship cohort,” the brief reads.