•Each financial year the county government allocates Sh350 million for the scholarship program which enables each of the 35 wards to get Sh10 million.
•The fund has had a positive impact but starting this year cheques will be dispatched directly to the school to prevent any delays or any avenues of corruption.
Kilifi county government has spent more than Sh3 billion for bursaries through the scholarship program for the last nine years which has benefited over 436,000 students.
The scholarship fund was established after devolution to help bright but needy students from poverty-stricken families.
Each financial year the county government allocates Sh350 million for the scholarship program which enables each of the 35 wards to get Sh10 million.
Governor Amason Kingi said the fund has had a positive impact but starting this year cheques will be dispatched directly to the school to prevent any delays or any avenues of corruption.
Speaking during the official launch of this year’s scholarship funds cheques disbursement, he said before handing over the fund this financial year, his administration has spent Sh2.9 billion
He said even though the funds are not enough, it has really made an impact in supporting the students from Kilifi.
“I have heard the cries of parents who want the funds to be increased, we will sit with MCAs to see if it’s possible so that the burden is reduced,” he said.
Kingi said there has been a challenge in the management of the kitty as some parents were complaining that committee members are demanding bribes to release cheques.
“We have taken some of the cases to the EACC because we found out that after cheques are released some committees ask for bribes from the poor parents particularly in the past year and the case is still pending,” he said.
The governor said they engaged three institutions to investigate how the bursary fund is managed and they gave their recommendations to ensure the cheques reach in time.
He said each of the 35 wards has its own committee mandated to oversee the process of ensuring they identify the needy students and the cheques reach the beneficiaries in time.
However, due to the challenges, he said it was recommended that the cheques will be disbursed directly to the schools and there will be a tracking mechanism to ensure the county and the beneficiaries get a prompt report of the funds disbursed to the respective schools through SMS.
Kingi said that there will be accountability and no more delays or any corruption cases reported by parents.
Kilifi Education executive Racheal Musyoki said since the first term of devolution the county has been able to support 49,630 students in universities, 271,999 students in secondary schools, and 44,270 students in colleges.
Further, she said the fund has also enabled to facilitate 43,469 students in vocational training centres, while those who were sponsored in driving school are 27,513.
“This is the best gift you can give to your people, they will remember you even after you have left office as Kilifi governor,” she said.
She said many people have been complaining about how the funds have been used but revealed that there are families who have really benefitted from the scholarship program.
Also present during the ceremony was Deputy Governor Gideon Saburi, county executive committee members, and MCAs.
The scholarship beneficiaries said they were happy to get the scholarships as it would go along in enabling their children to go to school.
They however called on the governor to increase the allocation from the current Sh10 million per ward to Sh20 million to reach out to more people.
Kithole Kithi from Garashi ward said the scholarship will help send his child back to school, as he had been sent home due to Sh39,000 debt at Malindi High School.
“Right now, I have been given a Sh40,000 cheque, I thank you very much because my son was to join form four but is still at home due to lack of fees,” he said.
Daniel Ngombo Ruruma ward scholarship chairman in Rabai constituency said they have been able to give full scholarships to 120 students in national schools.
“Since the program started, we have seen many children go to national schools others in the subcounty, or extra county and many are excelling,” he said adding that the kitty should be increased for more to benefit.
Zubeida Kazungu a widow with seven children said she has been getting scholarships which have enabled her bright children to go to school as she cannot afford to educate them.
Edited by Kiilu Damaris