Financial exclusion is an issue across Mandera county, with direct and associated education costs barring brilliant children from poor backgrounds from accessing education, Mandera Governor Ali Roba has said.
Speaking during the launch of the Sh110 million county bursary programme to support needy secondary and university students, Roba said it is the national government policy to provide free basic education and ensure 100 per cent transition of all pupils to secondary. But user costs remain a significant barrier to education access for children from low income families.
According to data from the Kenya National Bureau of statistics, Mandera is among the counties where poverty levels remain high.
Many residents lack basic facilities like connectivity to electricity, piped water and paved roads due to decades of marginalisation and vulnerability to climate change and impacts of long dry spells and flash floods that follow the rains.
Roba said his administration was well aware of these challenges bedevilling the majority of the population, noting that his government was committed to address the challenges faced by the needy students at various educational institutions.
He said the beneficiaries of the bursary kitty were vetted by the Ward Bursary Committees and approved by the Mandera County Education Bursary Board.
Over the last five years, the county has disbursed Sh440 million. Roba said this was a continuous commitment from his administration to supporting the needy but bright students from the county.
“We urge the students who will benefit from the bursaries to seize the opportunity and work hard in their studies. As a county we will continue to monitor their progress and will not hesitate to withdraw our support for poor performers,” said Roba.
In 2019, the county launched the Girl Child Education Affirmative Action plan to send the top students to Turkey to study traditionally male-dominated courses. They include medicine, engineering, architecture and actuarial science.
Roba disclosed that the students who are in their second year of studies are progressing well in their programmes.
He urged school managers to strictly adhere to the Covid-19 prevention guidelines and closely work with the Department of Public Health to offer guidance on prevention strategies.
Education executive Izzudin Abdullahi urged school managers across the county to make prudent use of the funds.