A trust fund launched in 1995 at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology to inspire students' independence was handed over to the institution's alumni in a colourful ceremony at the weekend.
The Babaroa Trust Fund was started with the expectation that benefiting students would contribute to the development of Kenya and become intermediaries between Kenya and Japan after their graduation.
Speaking during the ceremony, the chief representative of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency in Kenya Hideo Eguchi, said by rewarding top performing students, the Babaroa scholarship aims at motivating young scientists to react positively to their surroundings by empowering them to contribute to meeting the challenges posed by poverty in societies they live in, understanding its course and effects and offering and evaluating policies towards tangible solutions.
Egucihi said the Kenyan society is still characterized by large inequalities and a large number of its population still live in deep poverty, do not enjoy food security and do not live long. He said the JKUAT project is one of the most successful projects among JICA cooperation in Kenya and Africa and encompasses 5 priority areas namely agriculture, health, economic infrastructure, human resource development and the environment sector.
Babaroa Trust founder Hiroji Nakawa in a speech read on his behalf by a trust member Dr Jiro Nasaka said members of the Babaroa society who were involved in the development of JKUAT have a strong hope for the future of development of the university as they have a great affection for the university where they dedicated their youthful enthusiasm to its development. He commended the university for agreeing to continue with the award in place of Japanese Babaroa society and also for starting the Vice Chancellors award to cater for students in the departments not covered under the Babaroa system.
JUKUAT Vice chancellor Proff. Mabel Imbuga said the university has set aside Ksh 5 million seed money in a fixed deposit account whose accrued interest will be ploughed back to the scheme to benefit more students. She commended the Alumni association chapter who have expressed desire to sustain the fund in partnership with the university beginning 2012.
Proff. Imbuga said close to 600 students drawn from various faculties have benefited from the fund since its inception 15 years ago. Babaroa Alumni Association chairman Gathogo Githatu said the association is currently working on a fundraising mode that will be both sustainable and sufficient to support the worthy course. The association is formed by past beneficiaries of the fund. Githathu said JKUAT has set a precedent of producing high quality graduates who are readily accepted in the job market in the country an d beyond.