• The education fund is aimed at supporting bright but needy students from the County to join schools of their choice.
• Each of the successful applicants earns a full year’s worth of tuition and subsequent sponsorship over the next three years in high school.
Bungoma County has picked 2,000 students (joining Form 1 in national and extra county schools) on the Governor’s Scholarship.
The education fund is aimed at supporting bright but needy students from the County to join schools of their choice.
In a call that was made by Education and Vocational Training Executive Dr Betty Mayeku, applications for the annual Governor’s Scholarship, now in its fourth year, was open to bright but needy students who sat their KCPE in 2021 and are set to join Form 1 this year.
Each of the successful applicants earns a full year’s worth of tuition and subsequent sponsorship over the next three years in high school.
The brainchild of Governor Wycliffe Wangamati, the scheme's pioneer beneficiaries, some 500 needy students, are now in Form 4 in top flight schools including Alliance Girls and Boys, Kenya High, Pangani Girls, Friends School Kamusinga, Kapsabet Boys, Lugulu among others. Another 1,150 are now in Form 3 and Form 2 in various National and Extra County Schools.
The latest round of beneficiaries brings to 3,150 the total number of students on the Governor’s scholarship. Besides being needy, beneficiaries are required to have scored a minimum of 350 marks at KCPE and admitted either in National or Extra County schools.
Students with special needs and those from regions with poor results are also considered for award of the County scholarship for affirmative action and equity.
This year, at least 35 students from each of the County’s 45 wards were picked for the scholarship award. In what is designed to ensure only the very deserving cases are considered for scholarships, selection for the fourth cohort, like last year’s exercise, involved impromptu home visits.
The Scholarship Scheme is part of Governor Wangamati’s push to ensure that no child from the County misses out on their school of choice on account of fees or lack thereof.
“This is the only way to lift our people out of the vicious cycle of poverty,” he told the County Assembly when he sought clearance to start the Scholarship Fund.
Addressing the students last year during the award of scholarships, Governor Wangamati gave a commitment both as a leader and as parent to shoulder the responsibility of ensuring every deserving child is kept in school.
"From today, you are not just your father’s daughter, you are not just your mother’s son, you are my sons and daughters too and children of the County," he said.
"Your well-being and schooling is our responsibility as Government and leaders and as you seek out your dreams, you will not walk alone," he said, adding that it’s only through education that "we shall lift our people out of the vicious cycle of poverty."
"Through education, the son and daughter of a peasant has an equal opportunity to become what they want to be, the same way a son of a minister chooses what to be in life. Through education, the poor and vulnerable in the community have a fighting chance in life and a place on the high table of opportunities."
He appealed for more support of the programme from people of good will, private sector, and development partners.
"While this does appear like a great job we are doing, it actually falls short of sealing the cracks through which hundreds of our sons and daughters are falling and failing to transition to the next level of education," he said, adding that budget constraints limit the number of students the Fund can support each time.
"For every student we pick, there are 5 or more that are left out. And even for those that are picked, the depth of poverty is so severe that basic stuff like shopping is a huge challenge to their families. And when shopping is done, there remains the challenge of subsistence when schools close," he said.
"This is why each one of us can and should do something that supports the education of children from vulnerable backgrounds and think up strategies of empowering their families," he said.
Giving his keynote speech at last year’s fete to award scholarships, Mandera Governor Ali Roba touted Bungoma County's Scholarship Programme as a game-changer and something all Counties should benchmark with.
To ensure no child is left behind, Bungoma County is also running a Bursary Fund from which about 1,000 needy students from each of the 45 wards or 45,000 students per year across the County are each awarded a minimum of Sh10,000 for those in boarding County schools and Sh5,000 towards a feeding programme for those in day schools.
In five years, up to 300,000 students will have gone through the programme.