It seems fortuitous that Prezzo Uhuru Kenyatta, aka UK, was in the real UK, that is, the United Kingdom, co-hosting a fancy forum called Global Education Summit, just as the American media highlighted Kenyans’ successful forays in US universities.
A brief context: A major US news network profiled two successful Kenyan graduates who have been providing “help with homework” for American students in major universities.
The work is pretty straight. Kenyans advertise for tutoring services. Across the seas, American students with dollars to spare share their college login details with the Kenyan “tutors,” who then research, write and file assignments for the American students.
This frees the American students to more profitable pursuits like going to the films, ice rinks, smoking bangi (which is legal in many States) and having sex. This, too, is legal, in all States, usually from the age of 16.
In some instances, the brilliant Kenyan students write a complete degree for the Americans. And they are versatile enough to write on a wide range of specialised areas, from social psychology to medicine or American history.
For their trouble, Kenyan “tutors” receive up to $50 (Sh5,000) per page, which is ten times the average wage of a labourer in our beloved land.
American authorities call this “contract cheating,” which is an ugly aberration for such a beautiful collaboration. Moreover the “sector” is estimated to be worth around $1b (Sh100b) – substantial enough to fund one-third of the Standard Gauge Railway and relieve us of 25 years of Chinese loan repayments.
Which is why Prezzo UK should have highlighted this great Kenyan export at the Global Education Summit, and seek to leverage “tutoring” as one our foreign exchange earners. But it is not too late to explore those opportunities. First off, given that it’s a direct affirmation of the quality of education available in this country, it’s time to consider co-accreditation of courses between US and Kenyan institutions.
After all, if the degree offered is produced in Kenya, there are intellectual property issues involved. Kenyan tutors and their alma maters should be properly acknowledged for their role in producing top-notch US graduates. Conversely, Kenyans who are risking life and limbs to cross the Mediterranean should know quality education is available at home, for much less.
To promote international trade and avoid double taxation, US-Kenya attaches could introduce tax rebates for American institutions that support students tutored in Kenya.
As an aside, Kenyans on Twitter should demand more sensitive reporting from American news cables. The decision by CBS to film almost entirely from Nairobi slums was demeaning. It should have featured Kenya’s citadels of learning and framed the story as one about “brain drain.”
But the most crucial lesson is that Kenyan tutors are applying education at its finest: navigating the Covid-19 pandemic and joblessness to earn an honest day’s work—and helping expose Americans’ dishonest ways and sanctimony.