By PSCU/Judith Akolo
President Uhuru Kenyatta has said the government has increased capitation to schools to ensure equality in access to an education by all Kenyan children.
The President who spoke when he launched the second phase of the Wings to Fly scholarship program run by the Equity Foundation in conjunction with MasterCard Foundation asked schools’ management boards to ensure transparency in the use of education funds.
Speaking at the Safaricom Stadium, Kasarani at the commissioning of the 2016 Wings To Fly scholarship programme, the President said no child should be locked out of school on account of lack of schools fees.
The president said his government is working out ways that will in future ensure that both primary and secondary school education is free.
Saying he was delighted with the outcome of the Wings to Fly program which is in its sixth year and phase two, the President said the government is ensuring that every Kenyan child gets quality education.
This year has seen 2,000 beneficiaries get the scholarships and brings the total figure since the inception of the program to 12,377 scholarships.
“Let me appreciate Equity Foundation for partnering with MasterCard, United States Agency International Development (USAID), United Kingdom Agency for International Development (UKAID), and KfW –and other donor organizations and individuals of like mind, to help our children acquire education for our development,” said the Head of State.
MasterCard has endowed phase two of the Wings to Fly programme with 5,000 scholarships worth US$ 62 million (Kshs 6.2 billion).
The President commended the mentorship and leadership component of the scholarship for students during the April and August holidays which he said is helping in character formation.
“Indeed, it gives the students an opportunity to be accountable for their academic performance, leadership and discipline in school,” said the President.
President Kenyatta appealed to other organizations to emulate the Equity model, which commits substantial resources to service in the community, in order to help disadvantaged students, “as part of giving back to the communities in which the corporations trade.”
He appealed to organizations willing to assist children from poor backgrounds to not only provide the school fees but also endeavor to cater for other needs in order to have a holistic approach to the assistance.
“I appeal to other organizations that provide bursaries to strive not only to support tuition but also to pay for the other needs of our students critical to their performance,” said the President.
He noted that the un-coordinated efforts in bursary provision were not effective and called for a more co-ordinated approach. “It is time we streamlined these efforts,” he added.
He directed the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to establish a Board of Trustees that will be charged with the responsibility of coordinating all sponsors and philanthropists, for better and effective management of bursaries and scholarships.
“ I ask you all, the beneficiaries of this remarkable generosity, to make maximum use of the support. I urge you to commit yourselves to the highest standards,” he said.
The Wings to Fly scholarships are comprehensive, providing both tuition and other material support are given to learners to ensure learning is uninterrupted.
This year saw 22,000 candidates apply with 2000 getting the prestigious Wings to Fly scholarship.
Among the beneficiaries is a 31 years old mother and wife Gladys Chelimo who returns to school after a sixteen years hiatus due to lack of schools fees.
I am aware of the overwhelming demand for the Wings to Fly scholarship. I am informed this year, there were 22,000 applicants but it is only 2000 students that could be accommodated in the programme.
Equity Group Chairman Peter Munga said that for the country to succeed in realizing a highly development and democratic country, more young people must access an education.
“Democracy with ignorance is never complete,” said Peter Munga, Equity Group Chairman.
Speaking via video link, Mastercard Foundation CEO and President Reeta Roy said the MasterCard Foundation is committing Ksh 6B to the second phase of the WingsToFly program.
She said the program was very critical towards creating a critical mass of Kenyans who are ready to serve their country and to positively contribute towards the country’s development and knowledge base.
US Ambassador to Kenya Bob Godec who joined the Equity Bank Foundation in visiting needy students in Kangemi slums said as society, “We have an obligation in helping young people to get an education and invest in the prosperity of young people.”
He noted that once the beneficiaries complete their studies, they will be better citizens ready to participate fully in the development of the country.
Equity Bank Executive Chairman Dr. James Mwangi urged society to ensure that as many children as possible are able to access an education in order to make the country a better place to live, adding that knowledge is valuable to both the individual and the country.