St Paul’s University is the longest established theological learning institution in Kenya with a history of relations with Church Mission Society. CMS founded the St Paul’s Theological College in 1930 which has grown into the institution that it is today.
Just earlier this year, CMS-Africa International Director Rev. Dennis Tongoi was the guest speaker at the launch of their new Centre for Integral Mission.
And yet the history of scholarships from CMS to graduates of St Paul’s University stretches far into the past. The current Dean of the Faculty of Theology, Rev. Dr. Samuel Githuku, benefited from the CMS scholarship when he was doing his masters at the Catholic university in the 1980s. The person coordinating the scholarship scheme then was Tim Sanders who is still serving CMS in the UK as a staff member.
The current theology department, which Rev. Dr. Githuku heads, started in 1973 as the only faculty of the then St Paul’s Theological College. This small biblically-based seed has since grown in leaps and bound and currently the university has four campuses spread across Limuru, Nakuru, Nairobi and Machakos. The student’s ages range from young to old with students coming from churches and denominations all across Africa.
At the Limuru Campus, which is the hub of academic excellence, there are students from across Africa; both Anglophone and Francophone. “Theology in the past used to be mainly with male students but more recently there are many women who are coming up,” says Prof Esther Mombo who is in charge of Partnerships and developments.
“Many young students from St Paul’s have gone back home to South Sudan as bishops,” reports Professor Esther Mombo who proudly states that CMS is St Paul’s University great-great grandparent.
One such Partner who supports students through CMS-Africa is the Mylne Trust. The Mylne Trust was established in the UK after the Second World War. A lady by name Jersey Mylne left behind a great wealth, which has subsequently been invested in stocks and shares. The interests of which generate funds that are utilized in sponsoring education for people involved in Anglican mission work.
“Those who receive scholarships are from varied trades and trainings and not necessarily missions work,” says Roy Perkin who chairs the Mylne Trust Board of Trustees.
Whilst visiting St Paul’s University, Roy and Robin from the Mylne Trust clarified that scholarship application forms are available on the Mylne Trust website. But for those based in Africa, applicants are processed through CMS-Africa (James Kweyu).
The students have to fill in the various forms provided with supporting referral letters from their university and church if they are considered to be awarded up to £500 a year. It was additionally clarified that if a student has received a grant in the past that does not deter them from receiving grants in other subsequent years.
Currently the Mylne Trust only accepts applications from students who have completed their 1st year of study - i.e. in year 2 and above.
Applications are received in April and October of every year and the Trust’s administrator Robin then reviews the applications against a set checklist of 46 points which end up qualifying or disqualifying the applicants. One such requirement is that an applicants must be of Protestant/Anglican Faith. “The applicant must explain in a statement of faith what their faith is. They should attach a photograph of self.
Check concurrence of reference’s signings and referral letters attached both from the church and the university/college,” says Robin who further clarified that the trust annual budget is about £250,000. Each student who succeeds in receiving a grant receives the £500 converted into about Ksh.70, 000.
All aspiring students must take note that the Mylne Trust’s scholarship is one off grant, providing minimal support and students ought to understand that they are going to be fully funded through their academic studies.
The focus for the Mylne Trust’s scholarships is on Africa and not just in Kenya.
A student should provide a summary of who they are and their aspirations for life so that they can give a better idea to the trustees in making their decision. If a student has received grants from other sources, they are encouraged to declare them as this will increase the likelihood of being awarded a grant as they appear to have a greater chance of completing their studies.
The application and reference should be preferably typed but this is not exclusive for those who may not have access to a computer.
All applications from Africa go through CMS-Africa’s James Kweyu and are done from 1st August to 31st of December to receive the grants in April. The second application period is from 1st January to 31st July for one to receive the funds in October.
The faculty is both local and international and offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees as well as, more recently, PhDs. Additionally, the university supports staff who are yet to attain PhDs in order to pursue them. Currently there are over 100 members of staff who have attained PhDs as a result.
The university collaborates a lot with other colleges and universities across the county, most notably another of the CMS-Africa partners such as Carlile College which trains evangelists and is headed and run by the Church Army.
The student population at St Paul’s University is now between 6000-7000 across all the university’s campuses. The academic year runs from September to September each year with the number of weeks per semester approved by the Commission for Higher Education at 10-13 weeks. Rev. Dr. Githuku clarified that students from all other faculties also qualify for the grant as long as they are able to demonstrate that they will use the skills gained to advance the work of the Kingdom.
CMS-Africa is to organise more awareness raising forums with students at St Paul’s University in the near future to clarify areas that must be filled during applications.
By John Ndeta