Two counties at the Coast stand out when it comes to financing education for needy but bright students in what promises a bright future for local communities.
Kwale and Kilifi county governments have initiated bursary programmes aimed at increasing access to education by children from poor family backgrounds.
To uplift literacy standards, Kwale county allocates Sh400 million annually for bursaries at secondary and university levels or Sh20 million each for the 20 wards while Kilifi budgets for an average Sh350 million or Sh10 million per ward.
The Kilifi county ward sponsorship fund was initiated in the 2013/2014 financial year when Sh350 million was disbursed. Each of the 35 wards was allocated Sh10 million. More than 7,000 students have benefited.
At one time, Kilifi county's bursary soared to Sh525 million with county secretary Owen Baya billing it as the highest among counties then but it has been fluctuating.
"Kilifi is the county with the highest budget on bursary in the country. The reason is that the county has been among the last performers in examinations, has a high poverty index especially in Ganze, Magarini and parts of Kaloleni sub counties. We have established the bursary fund to save the education of bright children from poor families," Dr Baya explained.
Kwale county government has enhanced its bursary fund from Sh280 million initially to Sh400 million a year. The county government pays full tuition fees for 1001 students in national schools and 280 university students on government sponsored programmes.
The "Elimu Ni Sasa" programme has caused sensation in Kwale villages as poor families are able to send their children to national schools and universities, which used to be out of rich for many.
The county also gives part sponsorship to 25,000 students in district and other secondary schools and colleges. According to officials, allocation to each of the 20 wards is set to increase from about Sh14 million for each ward.
Kwale County has gone a notch higher in the scholarship programme after airlifting 68 students to various universities in India, according to County Executive for Education Mr Mangale Ndegwa.
The students are taking engineering, law and medicine courses in the foreign universities to raise the pool of critical human resources in the country.
"We are set to sponsor the second group of 32 students in universities abroad in the next financial year. We will spend about Sh50 million for the 100 beneficiaries for the foreign universities scheme," Ndegwa explained.
He explained that the minimum disbursement for tuition fees for students in district and other secondary schools is now Sh5,000 which means that majority of children in the county can access education.
"We are investing heavily in education because we want our students to be motivated. We also want to raise the number of experts from the county so as to play a role in development," Ndegwa said.
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