• The Nyota Zetu programme provides support up to Form 4.
• Beneficiaries are vetted by church leaders, chiefs, primary school headteachers and parents' representatives.
About 1,000 children from poor families have benefitted from a secondary school scholarship programme sponsored by the Murang’a government under Nyota Zetu programme.
Another 1,000 children benefitted last year. The county provides full support for the four years they will be in school. The programme is meant to break the cycle of poverty so that in future parents and guardians can sustain their children's education.
The beneficiaries scored more than 300 marks and were admitted to public boarding secondary schools. On Tuesday, Governor Mwangi wa Iria issued them with cheques in Ihura Stadium. He said the programme is meant to bridge the inequality gap between children from poor and affluent families.
In the past, financial constraints have condemned many bright students to hopelessness. Some had to join local day schools that their parents could afford. Iria said principals sold admission chances of students from poor families to rich students as the poor were confined to day schools.
“Even children from disadvantaged families have a right to good quality education,” he said, reiterating that the beneficiaries are vetted by a committee that includes a church leader, chief, headteacher and parents’ representative from each primary school.
Only deserving cases are considered and each ward has 30 beneficiaries, and each school two. "We used this technique because teachers, chiefs and church leaders know the pupils who come from disadvantaged backgrounds,” Iria said.
His administration chose to concentrate on public boarding schools as boarders are required to pay extra fees. “This programme will help make engineers, lawyers and other professionals in homes that would otherwise not have been able to produce them,” he said.
Once done with their education, the beneficiaries will be required to help educate other needy students by supporting the programme. The county has established Nyota Zetu Sacco that will help track the progress of beneficiaries. Their parents will are their guarantors to ensure they support the programme once they are employed so they sustain it for decades to come.
“We will have educated 4,000 students in four years. If they all support one student after they are employed, it means that nearly all disadvantaged children will be schooled without any help from the government. That is why we want to implement the programme through the cooperative movement,” the governor added.
He urged students who did not perform well in their KCSE not to give up as there are many technical courses they can pursue. Iria said local polytechnics and technical institutes have enough slots to incorporate everyone and asked Form 4 leavers to take advantage of them. About 10,000 students of free short technical courses sponsored by the county will be graduating in two weeks.