Shock as most Kenyan health workers fail English test for UK jobs

english test kenyan nurses
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Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe has decried failure of Kenyan health workers to pass English language tests required for UK jobs. 

Jobless Kenyan nurses and other health workers recently got a chance to work in the UK as part of a new scheme requested by Kenya this year. 

The unemployed health workers were meant to serve in the UK’s National Health Service before returning to work in Kenya.

The deal is similar to the one made by Kenya and Cuba, which saw the government get 100 Cuban doctors, with the Cuban government getting a cut.

But CS Kagwe revealed Wednesday that only a minority of those who applied qualified for the jobs.

"Out of 300 health workers sent for an English language test only 10 passed. We had negotiated for clinical workers for job exports but this turn of events is unfortunate," he said.

He then urged health workers to work hard to pass the employment standards set for jobs abroad.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe attends the 23rd Kenya Clinical Officers Association Annual Scientific Conference at Pride Inn Paradise Hotel in Shanzu, Mombasa County on October 27, 2021. 

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi | Nation Media Group

Speaking during the Kenya Clinical Officers Association scientific conference in Mombasa, the CS said that despite this, the government will continue to negotiate for Kenyan health workers to work in Europe and the Middle East. 

He also refuted claims that the government has resorted to exporting its labour workforce abroad instead of employing them.

"This is a rumour. Geographical boundaries will not stop us from working. Countries we are exporting health workers to are not doing us a favour. We are helping them when they are in need," he said.

He added that Kenya will continue to help people get jobs in Europe and the Middle East.

"But to have this, we will need to have a universal standard. Failure in English among our health workers sent to work in England is extremely high. Let's prepare ourselves, let us set the standards. Issue of quality training is crucial," he said.

He further called for technology training for health workers too since many destination countries have gone paperless. 

The deal between Kenya and the UK was good news for the more than 30,000 jobless Kenyan nurses and healthcare workers, and came barely six months after the UK allowed skilled Kenyans without degrees to apply for work permits in Britain under post-Brexit immigration rules.


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