At least 126 Kenyans benefit in Ford Foundation's Sh4.2bn fellowship

A librarian orders books at the National Library in San Jose, Costa Rica September 20, 2018. /REUTERS
A librarian orders books at the National Library in San Jose, Costa Rica September 20, 2018. /REUTERS

At least 126 Kenyans have benefited from Ford Foundation's fellowship programme for the past 10 years at Sh4.24 billion.

The International Fellowships Program (IFP) focused on marginalised Pokot, Turkana, and Maasai communities.

Apart from the ethnic groups, IFP also included women, people from low socio-economic backgrounds, and people with disabilities.

This is according to a report by the Institute of International Education (IIE) in collaboration with the Ford Foundation released on Friday.

It highlights the value and impact of fellowship programmes on marginalised communities.

"48 per cent of fellows were women, and 30 per cent came from the Rift Valley - a region with high populations of marginalised communities," the report said.

The report is part of a 10-year alumni tracking study which featured 60 women and 66 men from Kenya who pursued degrees under the umbrella of social justice.

It says 27 per cent took up studies in International Development, 21 per cent Education, eight per cent Environmental Science, and others in Public Health.

A majority of the people studied in the United States (69 per cent), the United Kingdom (18 per cent), and Australia (7 per cent).

Only 1 per cent stayed in Kenya to pursue graduate programmes.

According to the report, the programme has provided IFP alumni with important experiences of fairness in the socio-economic processes they had been through.

It has also increased their confidence, awareness, self-identity, commitment, leadership, and career advancement.

"For some, the experience opened their eyes to the fact that they had all along been victims of injustices," the report states.

Maurice Makoloo, Ford Foundation’s Eastern Africa regional director, said some of the IFP Fellows were the first in their families and local communities to obtain degrees.

"This study confirms that when every person, irrespective of their background, if provided with an equal opportunity, they develop their talents to incredible high levels."

He added: "Ultimately, the investment in these individuals empower them to make significant contributions to advance our society," he added.

Half of the alumni currently work in fields that include community development (48 per cent) or education (51 per cent), the report adds.

About one-third (30 per cent) of alumni work on gender issues.

Moreover, the report highlighted corruption, economic inequality, tribalism and nepotism as the key challenges to Kenya's struggling education system.

"Kenya has consistently been ranked among the most corrupt countries in the world," it states.

"This corruption, coupled with tribalism and nepotism, has marginalized many in the country and contributed to ethno-political tensions that often boil over most recently during last year’s presidential elections."

The program opened pathways to 22 developing countries in which Palestine recorded the highest literacy rate at 96 per cent.

The research was conducted using a code system developed in collaboration with the IIE study team.