For the sake of our many needy children, increase NG-CDF allocation

Rangwe MP Lilian Gogo during a past interview with 'The Standard' at her offices in Nairobi. [David Gichuru, Standard]

Debate on the legality of National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) is still raging, but MPs consider entrenching it in law there is a case for increasing its allocation to cater for development and education.

I was in my constituency, Rangwe, recently to oversee the verification of bursary application forms. There were more than 10,000 applicants with each describing, with attached details, why they deserved to be assisted. Many were orphans and others came from very poor backgrounds.

Some community schools had almost all students applying for the bursary fund which is usually not enough following overwhelming response from applicants. I seriously took the case of Wikoteng’ Secondary School that had over 370 applicants. Upon establishing the voluminous applications, I drove to the school to verify in person if there was foul play by the school administration or if the number was real. To my shock, all the applicants were available and were all needy.

In that very mission, I came to also learn that extreme poverty levels and lack of prioritisation of education has made parents in most community schools not pay school fees, leaving the schools to their own devices.

The only way the government can achieve its education goals is to work towards developing communities that ensure no child is left behind on education irrespective of their economic background. This can only be done by increasing funding to NG-CDF education bursaries.

It is agreed that quality education is fundamental to sustainable development. Education is one of the most powerful tools by which people can rid themselves of poverty and fully participate in their communities. In particular, educating girls has proven to be one of the most impactful ways of breaking the cycle of poverty.

For marginalised children, access to quality education can mean the difference between a lifetime of exclusion or becoming an active member of society. It opens up the opportunity for fair and equal access to decent jobs, living wages, and sustainable and healthy livelihoods. Thus, education is a tool for the empowerment of the marginalised as it leads to an expansion of choices, freedom and real opportunity. In other words, it leads to a greater capability to enable the individual to lead a good life.

I believe that education will help end poverty because, with basic education, parents learn more about how to care for themselves and their families, which in turn leads their children towards healthier lifestyles. Health education enables families to have higher chances of survival and even reduces rates of HIV/Aids.

Poverty sometimes comes as a result of illiteracy. By properly educating new generations, poverty rates could reduce significantly.

Even in my public participation forums with constituents to collect views on the utilisation of CDF kitty, it was clear from reactions from the people that the current allocation cannot meet their needs. In Kenya’s Vision 2030 Social Pillar, education and training is expected to be the principal catalyst towards its realisation, yet we are not keen on adequate funding of education at the community level.

The new Competency-Based Curriculum has brought another challenge as resources and structures necessary for its successful implementation are not enough, especially in rural schools. These include relevant and appropriate learning and teaching materials, teachers trained in the approach, school leadership that supports this approach, and the fact that existing assessment tools are designed to support traditional education approaches.

However, its successful implementation and learning can occur if NG-CDF gets adequate funding to ensure that there are no hitches that could have catastrophic consequences on learners.