Korea International Cooperation Agency, Nairobi

KOICA Alumni

Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) is the Republic of Korea’s aid agency. Daisy Jemutai met up  with Annie Njoroge, the head of Projects at KOICA and this is what they talked about.

Daisy: Kindly tell me a little bit about yourself.

Annie: My name is Annie Njoroge. I joined KOICA in 2014 as a Project specialist having done my masters in Development studies. My interest in joining KOICA was based on my passion for project management in relation to community development. Currently I am in charge of KOICA projects at the Kenya Office.

Daisy: What does KOICA do?

Annie: As an aid organization it is primarily focused on two areas; the first is project implementation,that is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. The second area is training of personnel, aimed at fostering Human Resource Development.

Daisy: So, what areas has KOICA  Kenya  delved  into.

Annie: We have had 12 local projects on education, water and health. The Kenyan Office is a champion on water development and therefore most of its projects are water based. Some of our water project areas are  Migori, Asembo, Naivasha, and Garissa (a diameter wall project). We have an ongoing project in Bungoma that is supposed to end by February 2018. Once the Bungoma water project is completed, it will benefit approximately 150,000 people. It will also benefit the neighboring Mt. Elgon region.

Daisy: What do these water projects entail.

Annie: The projects are mostly about water treatment plants.  It is a collaboration of both County and National government, and KOICA. What happens is that the county government and the Central government’s implementing body (on the ground) usually write a proposal, that is then taken to the Ministry of Water. The ministry reviews it and later  forwards it to the National treasury before  it ends up at the Korean Embassy.

Daisy: Tell us more about the other projects KOICA has done in Kenya.

Annie : We have done various renovations and constructions for schools. In Nakuru  we built one school and did two renovations. We built Kitengela Sub county Hospital, did a couple of renovations last year and supplied the hospital with equipment.

 

Daisy: How does KOICA pin-point the area that is in need of a project.

Annie: We don’t limit anyone when it comes to applying. Usually when a proposal is sent our way through the ministry, we review it and then hand it over to the HQ who look at the viability of the project -in terms of the budget, the need, and  the capacity of the office handling the project. Proposals sent are usually on a government to government basis.

Daisy: So, what projects are currently on-going?

Annie:

  1. Water development project – Improvement of water supply system in Bungoma County.
  2. The Primary school environment and ICT project – with the help of the Ministry of Education. It is running in Ngu’ndu Primary school in Kamulu and Uhuru Gardens Primary school in Langata where we are building classes and an ICT center.
  3. The National Industrial Training Authority Capacity Development Project – we are renovating their Mombasa Center. We intend to buy equipment for the institution.
  4. Kitengela Sub county Hospital renovation.
  5. Mother Child health program.

Daisy: When the former President Park Geun-Hye visited Kenya, she was involved in the establishment of the Mother-Child Health Program. How is the project going?

Annie: The mother-child health program is currently running and is being implemented in Kajiado County. It is an outreach program for both mothers and children, done 4 times in a month.  Our team (on the ground) does the implementation, in terms of treatment and diagnosis of various diseases. The program does not limit men though, as they can be treated as well. I would therefore label it more of a community development project, aimed at helping all the people in need.

Daisy: Let’s dive into KOICA’s other nascent area- Human Resource Development. How is the Kenya program running.

Annie: KOICA has 3 programs in training; Short term training that runs for 2-4 weeks, County Specific Training- where a county requests for a specific course, and Long-term training – a Masters program. Our HQ sends courses  that are offered in a particular year. Our work in the Kenya office is to receive these courses and send them to the department of Public Service Management, who then circulate them to specific ministries. It is the ministries that nominate the trainees and KOICA  finances the entire training including the flight, accommodation and meals.

Daisy: Where are these trainings carried out?

Annie: I would say that 90% of the trainings are  done in South Korea, although there are inland trainings where experts from Korea are send to Kenya to conduct the courses. The same thing happens with projects. For every project there are three trainings; the Policy makers training, Middle level managers training and an inland training.

Daisy: How many people have been impacted by these training programs and how successful have they  been?

Annie: Over the years we have managed to send over a thousand people for trainings. Personally I would say the project is successful because one is able to experience expertise that they had not gone through in Kenya. The cultural interaction opens one’s mind to new initiatives, and those who have gone to Korea have come back to implement the new things in their respective counties.

Daisy: There is the KOICA alumni, who are they?

Annie: The KOICA Alumni are people who have gone through our training programs and have come back to Kenya. They have various activities carried out quarterly. They go to schools to offer counseling in terms of career development and infrastructural support.

Daisy: Does KOICA support their activities ?

Annie: Yes. They simply tell KOICA the activities that they have for the year and are given a budget to run them. KOICA alumni are more independent, as they run there  own activities but in association with KOICA Offices.

Daisy: For your mission statement, as KOICA, what are your hopes for Kenya?

Annie: Considering that South Korea was once a poor nation, we hope that Kenya would rise from a developing country to a position where they can offer grants and aid just like South Korea at the moment.

Interview by Daisy Jemutai

 

 

 

 

Korean Studies at the University of Nairobi

From the year 2010, the Academy of Korean Studies (AKS) supported a networking project that was run by the Faculty of Arts in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) at the University of Nairobi (UoN). Three years later, it gave way to the establishment of Korean Studies at UoN. Housed in the Department of Linguistics and Languages, Korean Studies admitted its first students in September 2013.

This course majorly entails teaching Korean language, literature, culture, philosophy, economics and history. There are two programmes on offer: a Certificate in Korean Language, Literature and Culture; and a Bachelor of Arts in Korean Studies. Most of the core courses are taught by Prof. Yuhjin Park, the Korea Foundation (KF) Visiting Professor to UoN. The certificate course covers only eight months and admits students from any field of study. It therefore has a huge student enrollment. There have been four classes so far, and the numbers have steadily been going up.

On the other hand, the BA course covers four academic years. In each of the eight semesters, students take at least two core units on Korean Studies. The first cohort of students will graduate on December 15, 2017. They will be the first to graduate with a BA in Korean Studies from an African University. The numbers admitted to the BA course have also been rising with time, as Korean Studies gains popularity each day.

This popularity is in part the result of the many extracurricular activities students of Korean Studies take part in. There exists a vibrant students association, the Korean Studies Students Association (KSSA). Students taking any programme in Korean Studies can register as members of KSSA. The association is student led, but has the KF Visiting Professor as the patron. KSSA members take part in at least one activity in a semester.

The Korean Studies students

From July through December 2016, the association had Korea in Our Village, an activity funded by the AKS. During this six month’s project, Korean Studies students interacted with the Korean community in Kenya, shared Korean language and culture experiences with pupils and students of different institutions in Nairobi, and learned a thing or two by visiting Korean companies and institutions in Nairobi and Limuru. Experiences from Korea in Our Village are published on a YouTube channel (Korea in Our Village) and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Koreainourvillage/.

Korea Quarterly Magazine is another KSSA project as members collect news on matters relating to Kenya and Korea. This magazine will run for at least one year, and is also funded by AKS. Such activities as this have solidly improved the state of Korean Studies in the university. They have also become avenues of marketing Korean Studies at UoN both to students and to the public community. As students like to study courses that are fun as well as promising, Korean Studies continues to become an option every year.

The main stakeholders of Korean Studies at the University of Nairobi are AKS, KF, and the Korean Embassy in Kenya. While AKS kick started the project, KF provides a Korean Language teacher among other academic support. The Korean Embassy, on the other hand, has always supported both academic and extracurricular activities in Korean Studies at the university. There have been three speech competitions and one Quiz on Korea, all organised and closely supported by the Korean Embassy in Kenya. Winners of these competitions walked away with huge prizes, including chances to visit Korea.

In recent times, a Korea Corner has been established at UoN. This is a Korean culture experience room prepared by the Embassy. It has provided the perfect place for other students and staff of the university to come in contact with Korean culture, hence boosting the image of Korean Studies. We have also had the support of Korean Companies in Kenya, like Samsung and LG which have opened up chances for students to work and learn more about Korea. KOICA has also given students a chance to go to Korea for a period of up to four months, in which they engage in an intense language programme.