Time to change mode of bursary disbursement

Nyamira Governor Amos Nyaribo government has been accused of issuing bursaries selectively. Sadly, the problem is not restricted to Nyamira. Complaints of favouritism have been registered across the country. In Kisii County recently, disagreement arose over the issuance of bursaries and resulted into supporters of Governor Simba Arati and Member of Parliament Silvanus Osoro engaging in physical fights. 

These acts play squarely into claims that governors, MPs, Woman Reps and Members of County Assemblies (MCAs) have turned bursaries into political weapons. Indeed, bursaries have become a mode of reward for supporters, cronies and loyalists. They are powerful campaign tools that are mostly deployed with an eye on the votes and not necessarily to help the deserving.

In December 2023, MPs threatened to boycott House business because bursary funds had not been released to them. Ideally, bursaries were set up to help bright but needy children achieve their education goals.

However, the manner of administration of bursaries leaves them open to abuse. Often, governors and MCAs find themselves on collision paths over the allocation of bursary funds. It defeats logic that a governor, MP, Woman Representative and MCAs should all have allocations for bursaries. Cases of favouritism in the issuance of bursaries abound. In some instances, beneficiaries get the bursaries from several sources, effectively denying other deserving cases a chance to get them. 

Time has come for the government to rectify this glaring anomaly by taking bursaries away from politicians and, preferably, placing them under the Ministry of Education. The ministry is better placed to determine real needy cases from periodic reports generated by school heads across the country.

But the political leaders should not be blocked from being philanthropic--they should be allowed to fund needy students but from their own pockets or through fundraisers. That way, fairness will prevail in issuance of bursaries.

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