In 1880, the Legislative Assembly appropriated $15,000 for the “Education of Hawaiian Youths in Foreign Countries, to be expended in the actual education of the youths, and not traveling and sight seeing”. (Session Laws, 1880)
Subsequently, a Board consisting of the Board of Education and the Minister of Foreign Affairs was proposed to “have the management of the education of Hawaiian youths in foreign countries.” (Proceedings, 1880 Legislative Assembly)
This was a program designed and implemented by King Kalākaua.
From 1880 to 1887, 18 young Hawaiians attended schools in six countries where they studied engineering, law, foreign language, medicine, military science, engraving, sculpture and music.
A ‘studies abroad program,’ as it would be called today, was designed to ensure a pool of gifted and highly schooled Hawaiians who would enable the government to fill important positions in the foreign ministry and other governmental branches.
Seventeen promising young men and one young woman were sent on government funds to the four corners of the world: five to Italy, four to the U.S., three to England, three to Scotland, two to Japan and one to China. Several other students went abroad on funds of their own. (Schweizer)
Kalākaua personally selected the participants in his education program and probably planned to groom these young Hawaiians to become future leaders in his monarchy. Several of the youths were descended from Hawaiian aliʻi (nobility.) Several were the offspring of leaders in Kalākaua’s government.
As members of Hawai’i’s leading social families, some of the students had mingled with visiting dignitaries and intellectuals. Most of Kalākaua’s protégé’s had attended Honolulu’s best private schools where they had studied Latin and the Classics.
They were young Hawaiians with a heritage and background to indicate that they would benefit from an education abroad.
Kalākaua selected Robert William Wilcox, Robert Napuʻuako Boyd and James Kanaholo Booth as the first students in his program. They sailed from Hawaiʻi to San Francisco on August 30, 1880.
Once in Italy, Wilcox was enrolled in the Royal Academy of Civil and Military Engineers in Turin, Boyd in the Royal Naval Academy at Leghorn and Booth in the Royal Military Academy in Naples. (Late in 1884, Booth died from cholera in Naples.)
Early in 1887, two more Hawaiian youths traveled to Italy to study, accompanied by Colonel Sam Nowlein, an officer in Kalākaua’s Royal Guards. August Hering wanted to learn sculpture and Maile Nowlein, Colonel Nowlein’s daughter, and the only female participant in the Hawaiian studies abroad program, would study art and music.
In the summer of 1882, Colonel Charles Judd escorted Henry Kapena, Hugo Kawelo, Joseph Kamauʻoha, John Lovell, Mathew Makalua, Abraham Piʻianaiʻa and Thomas Spencer to the US and Great Britain.
Spencer was enrolled in St Matthew’s School in San Mateo, California (“one of the best schools for boys in California, and acknowledged to be the best military-discipline school in the state.” (Thrum, 1885))
In 1885, two more Hawaiians, Prince David Kawananakoa and Thomas P Cummins, also enrolled at St Matthew’s. Both young men had previously attended Punahou School. Kawananakoa later studied at Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester, England.
Piʻianaiʻa and Makalua were enrolled at St Chad’s, a preparatory school in Denstone, England. Kamauʻoha was admitted to King’s College in London (he died there in 1886.)
In November of 1882, Judd entered John Lovell, Hugo Kawelo, and Henry Kapena as apprentices at the Scotland Street Iron Works in Glasgow.
Also in 1882, James Kapaʻa, James Hakuʻole and Isaac Harbottle sailed for the Orient. That year, Hawaiʻi negotiated to bring Japanese to the Islands to work on the sugar plantations.
Hakuʻole and Harbottle, brothers aged 10 and 11 years old respectively, disembarked in Japan; Kapaʻa went to China. The government planned that the Hawaiian youths would be trained in the Asian languages and culture and then use their knowledge to aid in the government’s immigration plans.
Henry Grube Marchant was the last participant to be appointed in Kalākaua’s program; he trained in Boston in the art of engraving. He also sought “to learn the art of photographing upon the wooden block and such other branches of business that would enable him to become a good wood engraver in all branches of his work.”
Then, in 1887, following the ‘Bayonet Constitution’ and the curtailing of Kalākaua’s power, the “Reform Cabinet” cut the expenditures for Kalākaua’s education program and called most of the students home. (lots of information here is from Quigg.)