Lobby group wants state to consolidate bursary funds

Education CS Ezekiel Machogu serves a meal to pupils of Kihumbuini primary school. [Wilberforce Okwiri,Standard]

The government has been urged to consolidate public bursary funds and depoliticize education financing.

Speaking in Nairobi on Tuesday, members of Elimu Bora Working Group, said the multiple bursary funds controlled by politicians leads to biased allocations.

"This occurs amidst parents struggle as they strive to secure financial assistance to support their children's education," said Cornelius Oduor a member of the lobby group.

Oduor said there is need for the Kenya Kwanza government to establish a National Education Fund to guarantee students free and compulsory basic education, and enhanced access to tertiary education.

"Public education for all including the vulnerable, children with disabilities, urban slum residents, rural poor, hard-to-reach, and insecure communities must be planned and implemented based on a holistic school approach," he said.

The group faulted the implementation of the new higher education funding model saying it was hastily executed, excluding qualified and deserving students from accessing tertiary education training.

"Despite the constitutional mandate for free and compulsory basic education, over 130,000 students, out the 1.4 million who took the KCPE 2023, cannot access Form One due to financial constraints," said Maxwel Magawi.

This comes at a time when the politicians have been accused of using the fund to award their supporters including those from well-off backgrounds at the expense of the deserving needy students.

Last week, leaders from Meru County led by North Imenti MP Rahim Dawood, called on the national government to harmonise the issuance of bursary funds to curb duplication and ghost applicants.

The leaders said all the bursaries should be consolidated and managed by the Ministry of Education since they were all meant to help needy students.

“All the data about the learners should be consolidated in a pool from where bursaries will be issued instead of having multiple sources. Bursaries from the MCAs, governors, MPs, among others should be centralised to avoid duplication where some students are getting more than three bursaries while others miss out on the funding,” said Dawood.

The Kenya Union Of Post Primary Education (Kuppet) Secretary General, Akello Misori also called for an independent body to run bursaries.

"All learners need to access quality education irrespective of political affiliation," he said.