At least 150 needy students from Meru County will benefit from this year’s Elimu scholarship programme which is being implemented in the county for the first time.
The program is a Kenyan government-run education scholarship funded by the World Bank through the Ministry of Education and the Equity Bank group foundation.
The scholarship seeks to improve secondary education in Kenya and takes care of the beneficiaries’ school fees, transport and learning materials.
Speaking during the flagging off of the beneficiaries in Meru town, Reverend Jack Kithinji who chairs the selection board said the County has not been in the programme for some time but this year, after piloting was done two years ago, Meru was found to be in need of the programme.
“We have flagged off the beneficiaries today and we thank our political leaders for lobbying to ensure the county was also considered in the programme,” said Reverend Kithinji.
He added that the 150 beneficiaries were drawn from the nine sub-counties in the region and were from needy families some of who were admitted to secondary schools but had not yet reported.
Meru County Education Executive Linner Nkirote Kailanya lauded the programme saying that it was God-sent to the students who would have otherwise ended up without accessing secondary education to pursue their dream careers.
“The programme is uplifting education standards, especially in the needy areas and the County government will continue supporting such initiatives for the benefit of her people,” she said.
Tigania West MP John Mutunga thanked the government for accepting to include Meru in the scholarship programme adding that the move was long overdue considering that some parts of the county were semi-arid.
Mutunga called on the government to include the region in other programmes especially in health and roads construction to further uplift the living standards of the people.
“As the government prepares the budget policy statement in the next financial year, they should include Tigania East, West, Igembe Central and Buuri constituencies in the equalization fund to make them at par with other Kenyan areas,” he said.
His Tigania East counterpart Gichunge Kabeabea said they have been fighting for inclusion in the programme for a long time and thanked the national government for listening to them.
“We have done all that we could to get included such like passing of bills, petitions and also giving political goodwill to ensure the scholarship was here,” he said.
He said those who needed to be sponsored were many than those who were selected but they will ensure the remaining ones will be enrolled in the bursary programmes through the National Government Constituency Development fund (NG_CDF).
“Those who have not been picked here should not worry because we will consider them for a full scholarship through our full sponsorship bursary program,” said Mr Kabeabea.
Athwana MCA Victor Karithi on his part thanked Governor Kiraitu Murungi for working hand in hand with the ministry of education to help the residents and especially learners.
“We are now calling on individual well-wishers to intervene and help the needy students who were not covered by the scholarship so that they can also get to school and pursue their education,” said Mr Karithi.
He added: “We should get back to the villages and take care of those who have not yet reported to school due to various challenges. If we wait for the government alone, we might not get all the needy students covered and this is the reason we should have private players do this just as Equity bank is doing.”