By Duncan Mutiso Chalo
In our new ‘Ambassador Advice’ series, our Africademics Scholarship Ambassadors share their experience and advice for scholarship applicants in and from Africa. This week Duncan Mutiso Chalo from Kenya, a Research Associate at the University of Nairobi, introduces the Gandhi Smarak Nidhi Fund Scholarship and shares valuable tips for future applicants.
The Gandhi Smarak Nidhi Fund Scholarship is offered by the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Academy Society for the development of higher education in East Africa. The society is funded by the Government of India and three East African countries.
The scholarships are provided for study at the University of Nairobi. The aim of the scholarship is to assist Kenyan students who are interested in pursuing postgraduate degree studies in any field of study at the university. Funding is provided for one year and successful candidates can re-apply for extension of the funding for additional years.
Applicants must have attained at least an Upper Second Class Honours or its equivalent at Bachelor’s Level and must upload onto the application portal a letter of offer for postgraduate studies at the University of Nairobi for a Master’s programme (not PhD).
Annually the application deadline is fixed in the month of September. The link to the scholarship website is https://www.uonbi.ac.ke/news/gandhi-smarak-nidhi-fund-%E2%80%93-postgraduate-scholarship-20202021-academic-year
Personal Advice for Applicants
I applied for this scholarship because I had financial constraints and couldn’t raise the tuition fees. Furthermore, I was an MSc student at the University of Nairobi and I was eligible for the programme. The application process includes: submitting a curriculum vitae, copies of your offer of appointment from the university, and two letters of recommendation. In addition, a non-refundable application fee of KSh 2,000.00 is charged to be paid through MPESA services.
Interested candidates are invited to apply/re-apply for the scholarship through the online application portal (https://gandhi.uonbi.ac.ke). I became a more confident person through the application process, realizing I’m capable of anything I put my mind to. I didn’t seek any support during the process of application.
My Gandhi Smarak Nidhi Fund Scholarship application for 2014/2015 academic year was successful. The scholarship enabled me to complete my MSc. and set ground for my future career. The lessons I learnt during my MSc studies have been invaluable and eye-opening as far as the research world is concerned.
Practical skills gained from the programme include basic taxonomy, fieldwork techniques, herbarium techniques such as collection, pressing, drying and poisoning, mounting and stitching, labelling, filling and deposition. These skills have been valuable in my involvement in various botany and conservation related projects. I have been pushed to develop my skills in a variety of areas including writing, research, public speaking, and critical thinking.
Most notably, I have been able to present scientific papers at international conferences and workshops (in the US, the UK and Germany) and have published peer reviewed scientific papers in high impact journals. I would encourage young scholars to apply for this scholarship since it’s a good opportunity to achieve their goals.
Nonetheless, I would encourage resilience, casting a wide net, keeping your options open (apply to as many programmes as you can), paying attention to detail, choosing referees wisely, tailoring your materials, highlighting your strengths in each and every scholarship or grant application.
Lastly, I would advise all students and young scholars to live by scholarship and grant applications and to make applications and the search for funding opportunities a habit. My rule is, at any moment, to always have two or more active applications for which I am waiting for a response.