Taita Taveta University set to launch scholarships for needy students

Taita Taveta University Acting Vice Chancellor Prof Fred Simiyu Barasa. [Boniface Okendo,Standard]

Taita Taveta University is at an advanced stage of starting an endowment fund to offer scholarships to students from poor backgrounds to further their education.

Vice Chancellor Fred Barasa disclosed that over 3,000 students will benefit from the fund which has already been approved by the county leadership.

“As an institution of higher learning, we are trying to change the face of Taita Taveta County. Students from the county will be given first priority in the endowment fund as part of corporate social responsibility to the host community,” Prof Barasa said on Thursday.

Speaking at the county assembly in Wundanyi town, Barasa was optimistic that the Commission of University Education (CUE) will soon approve the programme so that the university can operationalise the fund for the benefit of the needy students who had been struggling to further their university education.

“There is a great development that is happening at the university which has already started 18 other new attractive education programmes according to the needs and aspirations of the consumers. We have also started mentoring last year's four leavers in the region,” the VC told assembly Speaker Wisdom Maghanga and members of the assembly.

He disclosed that the county leadership led by Governor Andrew Mwadime and MPs Abdi Chome (Voi), Damson Mwashako (Wundanyi), John Bwire (Taveta) and Peter Shake (Mwatate) recently visited the university to familiarise themselves with the strides it has made in the recent past.

“We are planning for a meeting with MCAs at the university soon so that they can also acquaint themselves with what is happening at the institution,” Barasa said.

At the same time the VC said the introduction of the endowment fund will help boost the low enrollment rate of local students at the university which has been discouraging.

“The fund will provide scholarships for the very bright students from the county who do not have the financial means to pay the fees,” he said.

This comes amid concerns over the low number of students from the county joining TTU.

Barasa noted that out of about 4000 students, only 80 are from the county constituting less than 2 percent of the total population.

The VC noted the low enrolment rate comes despite the university developing relevant and tailor made attractive courses and diverse learning programmes at the university aimed at empowering the local community.

He told local leaders that something should be done to reverse the worrying trend.

The VC disclosed the university with an annual budget of between Sh 800 million to Sh1 billion has been offering quality education, training, research, and outreach programs to empower the local community for improvement of their social well-being, while assuring environmental sustainability and local students should be sensitized to enroll in large numbers.

The VC told the county leadership that the university had also developed relevant attractive and diverse programs so as to increase the student enrolment. Recently, the university converted Ngerenyi farmers Training Centre in Mwatate Sub County into its constituent college.

Barasa said the opening up of the satellite campus is aimed at bringing university education closer to the people and increasing access to higher education.

“The county student population constitutes less than 2 percent of the total population. Local leaders should help the university management to push the population to at least 20 percent,” he told the leaders.

“The government has been injecting between Sh800 million to Sh1 billion annually and the amount has made a huge difference in transforming the lives of the local community by directly and indirectly offering jobs. The county government should also come in and offer scholarships to local students to further their education,” Baraza told the leaders.

Currently, the VC revealed that 41 per cent of the jobs had been awarded to the local residents with Taita constituting 35 per cent while Taveta six per cent respectively on permanent and contract basis.

The governor promised to boost the number of local students at the university.

“My administration is committed to increase the number of university students from the county by offering bursaries and scholarships,” Mwadime assured the university.

The governor also issued a title deed to the University’s Ngerenyi Campus.