A Kenyan trade unionist at Ruskin College, Oxford

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Chevening scholarship profile

Adams Barasa

COTU, Kenya

Every year a number of trade unionists from round the world study at Ruskin College in Oxford, often co-sponsored by the Government's Chevening Scholarship Programme and a trade union body.

This year, the TUC is co-sponsoring Adams Barasa, who is the personal assistant to Francis Atwoli, the General Secretary of the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) in Kenya.

Before his arrival, we asked him to introduce himself.

'I am Barasa Sospeter Adams, 29 years old, born to my late father who died in October 2003, Zachariah Barasa, and my loving and now widowed Mum, Norah Barasa.

'I was born of peasant farmers who lived and where my Mum still lives, in a small village called Bukove, in Lusumu Location, Navakholo Division of Kakamega District in Western Province which is located approximately 500km west of the Capital City, Nairobi.

'Throughout my Primary School, I went barefoot though remained top of the class throughout.

'I did proceed to my secondary education but due to lack of school fees had to drop from my first school to the second but by assistance from friends, successfully completed still at the top of my class!

'Then I went on to join Moi University and upon completion, join the Kenya Times Media Trust and its Bureau Chief based in Western Province. I worked here for three years before join the labour movement.

'I hold a Bachelor's Degree in Language and Literary Studies from Moi University with a Major in Linguistics (English) and a Certificate in International Computer Driving License, ICDL from Turin University, Italy.'


I am currently the Personal Assistant to the Secretary General, COTU (K), charged with handling all the correspondence addressed to the Secretary General as well as with the responsibility of coordinating and disseminating trade union information to all affiliate unions locally, regionally and globally.

I have daily communication duties of posting news on the national trade union center's website for easy access by the affiliates.

I issues press releases/commentaries on behalf of the Secretary General and the affiliate trade unions including giving a general response on issues touching on the labour movement in the media.

And I generally communicate labour rights to our membership.

Past achievements (in the field of labor)
  • Successfully installed and continue to run the organisation's website, www.cotu-kenya.org
  • Initiated the establishment of a working Communications and Public Relation Department based at COTU (K).
  • Developed the COTU (K) News Magazine, Workers Voice, now in circulation to affiliates.
  • Developed a database for COTU (K) affiliates on Collective Bargaining Agreements as and when signed.
  • Aided the establishment of a computer network and E-Mail Intranet connectivity among the staff.
  • Currently working on the development of an ultra modern ICT resource centre based at COTU (K).
Future plans

'I want to develop an elaborate network of information for COTU (K) affiliate trade unions for the development of a vibrant and informed labour movement with the focus on Leadership Skills, Mobilisation, Globalisation, Organisation and Collaboration/Partnership.

'I plan to initiate information exchange and communication within the trade union movement for easy access to communication.

'And I want to centralise vital workers' information as well as relevant International Labour Standards issues to create a work-force that remains relevant and knowledgeable.'

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