Google has just announced their 2008 Scholarship winners. In total, there are 42 recipients from various US Universities.

Each of these students will receive a $10,000 academic scholarship from Google, as well as an invitation to attend the all-expenses-paid Annual Google Scholars’ Retreat held each Spring at the Googleplex in Mountain View, California.Earlier this year, Google announced the winners of the 2008 Google Anita Borg Scholarship in the U.S. and Canada as well as in Europe.

As I was going through the list of successful students, in stead of getting excited with their achievement, I became more and more disappointed.Why? Because a big continent that is usually forgotten by many was once again left out.Yeah, I am talking about Africa! But as I continued moving my mouse from one link to another on the Google blog, I finally landed on a page where I found that Google is doing something in Africa. Google state that as part of their ongoing commitment to supporting education in Africa and to diversifying the engineering talent pool, they are encouraging African women to pursue careers in computer science and technology. They have partnered with the Zawadi Africa Educational Fund to grant five Kenyan women full scholarships to complete degrees in computer science, computer engineering and/or ICT. The Google Zawadi Scholars will pursue studies at top universities in Kenya and South Africa, and they’ll each have the support of a Google engineering mentor.

The Google Zawadi Africa Scholarship program is a welcome development.But it has a few shortcomings.It is limited to Kenya. As if that is not enough, it caters for only five students. University tuition in Africa is cheaper than in the US or UK. For example, tuition fee for one student at a Western University can cater for several students at an African University. When I was doing my MSc at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, my first year tuition fee was less that USD1,500.In my second year, it was less than USD60. You can agree with me that the amount of money that Google will spend for the five Kenyan students studying in Kenya or in South Africa will be very small.Therefore, I would like to ask Google to expand their scholarship program in Africa so that more students can benefit. I am also of the view that men must also be given a chance in these scholarships.

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