West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo has vowed to defending his seat during the coming polls to complete his initiatives to improve the standards of education and ensuring equitable access to county government education bursaries.
Speaking at Makutano Stadium in Kapenguria Town during the issuance of bursary cheques worth Sh100 million to schools, Lonyangapuo said the county was still disadvantaged since illiteracy levels were still high.
He said his first term in office has seen tremendous improvement in school enrolments citing the award of bursaries to students as the motivating factor.
“I will only retire from the seat when I see my people having attained high education levels until we become at par with other regions. The wealth we have can actually be deemed peanuts as compared to other communities in the country,” stated the governor who has been cleared to defend his gubernatorial seat in this year’s general elections.
He stated that when his administration assumed office, there were about 20,000 students in secondary schools, a number that has since increased to about 80,000 from Form 1 to Form 4 across the county.
He argued that the poverty levels among the residents are still high hence many parents have not been taking their children to school.
He mentioned that since taking over from the previous regime and made education bursaries a priority of his administration, many children have been enrolled in schools, an indication that many people had been starved of education.
“The total fees for day schools is Sh10,000 and my administration commits to pay Sh7,000 per child. This means parents only have a deficit of Sh3,000 which I appeal to parents to work hard and settle for their children to learn,” he urged.
He added that for boarding schools every beneficiary was getting Sh20,000 where in all “struggling” schools their allocation had already been paid and in other schools an advance payment of Sh10,000 had already been made.
“The cheques being issued today caters for the children in schools where the full amount had not been paid,” mentioned Lonyangapuo maintaining that he wants West Pokot to be a pool of professionals.
He castigated those politicians who have been criticizing his bursary programme that was running into a budget of Sh400 million saying they were playing as true enemies of the people.
The governor appealed to school administrations in the county to be more humane through keeping students in school as their fee payments are being sorted out.
Meanwhile school heads led by the West Pokot County Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (Kessha) hailed the bursary programme saying it has cushioned them against the challenge of running schools due to poor school fees payment.
“The bursaries come in lump sum leading to an amount that parents have not ever paid in a single moment. The bursaries have reduced the burden to both the parents and the schools since the amount has kept most schools running,” mentioned area Kessha Vice Chair Joshua Kipkemei.