How migrants are helping to improve education standards

By Ivan Kanyali

Access to quality education is a basic human right that holds the key to sustainable development across many developing nations.

Sadly, for millions of people around the world, it is inaccessible for various reasons such as conflict, climate change and poverty. According to the United Nations, we are at a crisis point in foundational learning, literacy and numeracy skills among young learners as 244 million children and youth are out of school, and 771 million adults are illiterate.

Global commitments to invest in education of underprivileged children need to translate into action and results. Urgent action is needed to ensure that youth and adults who want to further their studies, including traveling overseas for advanced degrees, get the support they need to succeed.

As we approach International Day of Education, celebrated annually on January 24 by The United Nations, this year’s celebrations are focused on the link between education and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It’s important to note how Kenyans relocating abroad are helping conquer these challenges of SDG in Kenya.

What to consider when moving abroad

Adapting to a new culture, potentially learning a new language, and physical separation from friends and loved ones back home can be challenging. Migrants also need to settle quickly in order to focus on studies, potentially get a part time job, plan finances, and build social connections.

Some factors to consider if you are traveling overseas for education include the cost of living, what your healthcare options are and how your residence or citizenship status affects your options, and how to send money back home in case you need to support family and friends.

Additionally, it is important to check local pages to determine what costs are expected in terms of local residency, wages, transport and healthcare. Comparison sites and educational pages dedicated to migration can ensure you get the best value for money.

Importance of education to Kenya domestically and abroad

International Day of Education is a timely opportunity to think about the role that migrants play in improving education standards in Kenya. Some migrants relocate back home after advancing their education overseas as a way to meaningfully contribute to the growth and development of local industries through skills, knowledge and technology transfer. Others go on to get jobs abroad but share some of their income through remittances to support the education of children, siblings and loved ones back home.

Education is one of the main uses of remittances in Kenya. Diaspora remittances have been particularly helpful for households grappling with the impact of inflation on the cost of education. A survey by WorldRemit shows that, on average, Kenyans paid 1.75 times their monthly salary on school supplies during the 2022 August back-to-school period. Diaspora remittances have helped to cushion this burden.

Education must be prioritized to accelerate development and break the cycle of poverty. We also need to recognize the contributions of migrants in elevating the education standards in our country.

Despite the rise in the cost-of-living, Kenyan migrants continue to support their loved ones in the country. Some have adjusted their lifestyles to be able to save and send money back home, with diaspora remittances remaining resilient amid the global cost of living crisis.

(Ivan Kanyali is the Regional Manager for East Africa at WorldRemit).


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