At least 1,004 bright but needy students in Kwale have joined secondary school in the last two years, thanks to bursaries from the county government.
The figure includes 40 pupils who had dropped out of school due to lack of fees.
At least 300 of them are at Kwale High School after performing well in their 2013 KCPE exams. Their secondary school fees has fully been paid. The rest are distributed to Starehe Boys Centre in Nairobi, Asumbi Girls (Homa Bay), Mama Ngina (Mombasa), Ribe Boys (Kilifi) and Maranda High (Siaya) among other schools.
Since its inception two years ago, the programme dubbed Elimu ni Sasa has reduced the number school drop outs. It has also seen improved performance in primary and secondary schools as students fight to win the scholarships.
The first batch of 259 beneficiaries of the programme joined Form One on 2014 when the county government gave Sh100 million to sponsor them. Each of the 20 wards was allocated Sh5 million to support needy students through secondary school.
The county later increased the fund to Sh280 million after the number of beneficiaries increased to 705 in 2015.
And this year, the number is expected to go even higher. The county government has already set aside Sh400 for bursaries once form one selection is done.
Selection for those joining national schools starts on January 21, 2016. To qualify for the bursary, a student must be admitted to a national school and must be needy.
Every ward will now get Sh20 million each to sponsor secondary education of the needy students.
Governor Salim Mvurya says cheques for the 2016 beneficiaries will be issued in February after receiving admission letters.
“Historically, education in Kwale has faced a myriad of challenges, ranging from poor infrastructure, shortage of teachers to low transition rates from primary to secondary school, then to university,” Mr Mvurya said.
He added: “At least 71 per cent of the population in this county live below the poverty line. Before this initiative, the situation was so bad that most students could not proceed to secondary schools.”
“That is when we resolved to do everything possible to turnaround the poverty situation in Kwale by sponsoring the education of needy students. We want to improve the lives of our people by producing professionals who, other than getting employed, can also bring development to our county.”
SCORED 360 MARKS
Sixteen-year-old Said Mkulu is now Form Three at Kwale High thanks to the sponsorship. “I scored 360 marks in the 2013 KCPE exams but my parents could not raise my school fees. However, I applied for the county government sponsorship and I got it. My school fees was fully paid for. I am so grateful,” he says.
Another beneficiary Julius Kunrathi is in Form Two at the same school. “I had been admitted to bother Kenyatta High and Kwale High after I scored 355 in my KCPE exams in 2014. However, fees was an issue as my parents did not have money. But thanks to the sponsorship, I am now in secondary school,” said Kunrathi.
And the beneficiaries are not disappointing. For instance, Said attained position three out of 227 students with a mean grade A- in his Form Two end term exams last year.
Kwale High Deputy Principal Mr Jacob Shuma says the sponsorship has increased student enrolment, giving hope to many needy students who would have missed out on secondary education.
“Most of these students come from poor families, others have been raised by single parents,” Mr Shuma said.
A parent, Ms Amana Kenya could not hide her joy when Nation visited her home at Tsimba village in Kwale. “My daughter who is now in Form Three at Matuga Girls High School, thanks to the sponsorship. The school had asked for Sh60,000 in fees which I did not have,” she says.
Education Executive Mangale Ndegwa said from their analysis, they already have a list of over 700 needy students who scored 350 marks and above in last year’s exams.
Kasemeni Ward representative Anthony Yama says the programme has also promoted competition among wards as each seeks to have their students performing well.
So successful is the programme that corporate institutions such as Equity Bank, Cooperative Bank, Family Bank and Kenya Commercial Bank among others have partnered with the county to support more needy students.
The County also supports needy students admitted to county and extra-county schools through offering bursaries to pay part of their fees under the Elimu ni Sasa initiative.
The programme also supports needy students who have been admitted to university.
In addition, the County also has 68 students whom they have supported to pursue special courses in India such as law, medicine and engineering among other courses.
The governor noted that they also invite specialists involved in various careers every year in August, to mentor and advise the students.