Investing in future through bursaries

Tuesday March 21 2017

Kiambu Governor William Kabogo addresses residents

Kiambu Governor William Kabogo addresses residents of Kiambu town during a voter sensitisation exercise on February 10, 2017. He said many residents in the county have benefited from education bursaries. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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When I was elected the first governor of Kiambu four years ago, I identified access to education as one of the solutions to the numerous challenges facing the people in this county, in particular, and the country, in general.

Soon after assuming office, we rolled out a massive programme of bursary awards to the needy and deserving students from across the county.

In 2015, however, the bursary scheme was suddenly halted by a directive issued by the Controller of Budget, Ms Agnes Odhiambo, requiring us to amend our Bursary Act to conform to the Public Finance Management Act.

By the time the directive was issued, the scheme had benefited more than 40,000 deserving students, who had been awarded bursaries amounting to some Sh210 million.

Since the suspension, we have established that a staggering 15,000 potential beneficiaries have been affected, some forced to drop out of school because of huge fees arrears.

Among those who had benefited, and those who sadly missed out, are orphans, children living with disability and those from homes with serious financial and social challenges.

Having fully complied with the directive of the Controller of Budget, we shall soon resume the implementation of the bursary scheme to ensure that our youth are given a chance to access secondary and tertiary-level education.

As we await the gazettement of the Kiambu County Government Bursary Amendment Act, we are right on track to ensure that the county delivers on the promises that we made to the people prior to the 2013 elections, as part of the wider Jubilee Party vision, to ensure that youth gain access to education as a way of fulfilling their dreams.

This is an important step towards achieving our country’s development goals of ensuring social equity, economic development, and political stability.

The role of education in ensuring these achievements cannot be overemphasised, which is why we, in the Jubilee government, continue to invest resources in the education of the country’s young people.

The free laptops project for Standard One pupils, the free primary and secondary education, the abolishment of examination fees for students in the public and private schools, and the strict implementation of school fees guidelines are all strategies that are meant to ensure that education is accessible to all who need it.

As we look back at the four years that we have been in government, we are proud to note that there has been an increase in the number of students enrolled in secondary schools and tertiary colleges because of initiatives such as the bursary schemes.

We are also optimistic that the numbers will grow further in the county once we resume awarding the suspended bursary scheme.

All these shall have a ripple effect of impacting positively on the overall development because needy parents can direct the little income that they have towards development priorities to generate more income and improve the quality of their lives, while their children will enhance their chances in life by becoming more employable and less vulnerable to the socially unacceptable ways of life, including crime.

The county government is also keen on developing early childhood education facilities. I recently officially opened the Kabunge Early Childhood Development Centre in Kirenga Ward of Lari Sub-County.

We are looking into the possibility of acquiring an extra piece of land for the development of a playing field for the school.

Education is a major pillar in the county government’s manifesto. The county government is renovating and building new ECDs and polytechnics.

And as we venture deeper into this election year, we hope that we shall involve the young people more in determining who among them are awarded the bursaries.

In this way, we shall be building on a tradition of accountability and transparency, which is in line with the democratic ideals that we cherish in Kiambu County and the Jubilee Party.

The bursaries shall continue to be awarded through ward committees where there is representation from youth, non-governmental organisations, religious bodies and prominent community members, who vet the applications and recommend to the county executive the most deserving students.

Mr Kabogo is the governor of Kiambu [email protected]