Railway trainees in Kenya learn the nuts and bolts of operations
As long-awaited new line nears completion, training is underway for the employees who will run and maintain it
It is rare to see Chinese teachers in Kenya, says 27-year-old Martin Kabue. When he read an advertisement in the newspaper that Chinese teachers will come to Nairobi to offer training programs for aspiring railway technicians, he was exhilarated.
"I was very excited upon reading the advertisement, especially when I learned that we would study under Chinese teachers. It's unusual in Kenya. I have never studied under foreigners," Kabue says after attending classes for a little over a month. "China is one of the largest economies. I knew I would get the best from them."
Kabue is among 23 students in a course on railway communications at the Railway Training Institute in Nairobi. He already had a diploma in information communication technology from a local college.
"Applicants have to meet a list of requirements and get through rounds of interviews to get a position in the program. I used to be the best in my class. When I got involved in the training, I realized there is so much to learn," he says.
The short-term training started in October. It's the second stage of a training program sponsored by China Road and Bridge Corp, in collaboration with the Kenya Railway Training Institute and Southwest Jiaotong University. In addition to the communications course, there are three courses on locomotives, signaling and track maintenance, each lasting between three and six months. Each has an enrollment of around 30 students.
The university has pooled 14 teachers from resources in railway vocational training in China, teaching either in English or through translators.
Dai Ruoyu, leader of the training team, says the program's second phase will last until the end of 2017 and expects to offer 14 courses and train 743 students.
"By February 2017, the peak time of the training, we'll have 44 Chinese teachers," Dai says.