In the recent past, banks have been offering scholarships to bright and needy students in secondary schools and universities.
However, there is an estimated one million youth in Kenya who miss out on an opportunity to get vital skills after failing to transit to secondary or university level education.
While the initiative by the banks must be lauded, there is need for the same support to be extended to average performers to enable them join Technical Vocational Education Training colleges to attain skills and competencies.
Skills and competencies for artisans, especially in woodwork, mechanics, welding, building, automotive, agriculture and electric and electronics is still need to boost Kenya’s economy.
Failure to support TVET colleges will be counterproductive considering that the government has devolved vocational training centres, formerly youth polytechnics.
TVET Authority director general Dr Kipkirui Lang’at said TVET colleges require incentives such as scholarships from corporates to attract more students.
He said corporates should emulate the Higher Education Loans Board which has disbursed Sh350 million to students joining technical institutes.
“The TVET sector is being reorganised by the authority as a regulator. Corporates should not fear; they should extend their scholarships to the sector,” Lang’at said.
He added that Uasin Gishu county has recognised the need to support students in technical training by sponsoring students in building and electrical installation at the Rift Valley Technical Training College.
This is yielding success because there has been 100 per cent enrollment in the courses which are in demand because of the many development projects. “Banks can work with county government to identify various courses that need to be supported be it in agribusiness or other technical courses.”
The Housing Finance Foundation is the only company that, together with the Ministry of Education Science and Technology, in July 2014 set a target to train one million artisans with job market skills and competencies by the end of this year.
Efforts to get to know what the HFF initiative has since achieved did not bear fruit.
Lang’at said Kenya Commercial Bank, which offers scholarships to bright and needy students at secondary and university levels, plans to train jua kali artisans in construction, motor vehicle mechanics, welding fabrication and agriculture.
“KCB has already approached us to train new artisans and also support existing ones financially,” Langat said.
The bank targets to train 10,000 artisans with the pilot set for this month.
KCB Foundation director Jane Mwangi said they hope to expand investments to vocational training in the near future. “Our continued focus in education is driven by the need to grow and nurture a critical mass of skills to drive economic expansion in East African and beyond,” Mwangi said.
KCB Foundation has since 2007 invested over Sh500 million in education, building classrooms and supported more than 1,000 students in a scholarship programme.
Equity Bank and the Cooperative Bank also have their own scholarships targeting KCPE students with 350 marks and above. “We leave for students to decide what they want to study whether in a technical school or to specialise in technical courses,” Co-operative Bank Group CEO Gideon Muriuki said.
This year, 880 scholars in high schools will benefit from Co-operative Bank scholarship in various classes from form one to four. “At least 80 of these students are living with disability who we have deliberately included in the programme,” Muriuki said.
After the 2016 intake, the Co-operative Bank will have provided free education to 4,250 young Kenyans, of whom 4,110 will have gone through secondary education and 140 through university.
Equity Bank’s Wings to Fly programme has given scholarships to 10,377 students in the last five years.
In 2015, Equity received 20,300 applicants while it could only give scholarships to 2,000.
Wings to Fly Programme is an initiative of Equity Group Foundation and The MasterCard Foundation with support of UKaid and USaid.
In 2015, there was additional support from German state development bank KfW.
Mobile company Safaricom has plans to build a secondary school (M-Pesa Academy) on a 50-acre plot in Thika.
Fashioned on the Starehe Boys Centre model that admits needy but bright students who pay minimal or no fees, the academy’s first group of students will not pay a single cent for their education. Future students will, however, pay something for sustenance.
Safaricom Head of Corporate Responsibility, Sanda Ojiambo, said Safaricom Foundation and M-Pesa Foundation will continue to invest in the education sector. “We would also want to produce well rounded citizens and hence we believe mixing students from needy and well to do backgrounds will in a way help us achieve this,” Ojiambo said.