In the coming weeks of February many eager, excited and also scared students will join Form One. After traversing various shops to buy supplies, uniforms, and snacks (if your school allows them). The students accustomed to their warm beds and the comforts of being at home will have to bid them goodbye and embrace the tough new world of boarding school. However, if you are in a day school the stress happens to be less but the anticipation of being in a new school is the same across the board.
I remember my first day going to State House Girls High School. I was so nervous that I barely slept. My uniform fit loosely on my skinny frame and my hair was almost going back to its natural state despite all the straightening at the salon. To be honest had it not been for my mother I have no idea how I would have made it through that first day. After our parents left we were all assigned ‘school mums’ (older students) who helped us carry our luggage and get settled in our rooms. The school mums basically took care of you until you could figure things out on your own
With time I finally settled though it was hard at first as I was not used to being away from home for so long. This is when I began to notice that we were different. Some of my roommates in the cubicle to which I was allotted had so much stuff (mostly in terms of food and grooming products) while some just had the basic items. Whereas some of us had shirts for each day of the week others had just three or even two and they did not look new.
As the term progressed I also noticed that some of my classmates were always sent home for fees. When some of us would go home for mid-term they chose to stay behind because they were at least assured of daily meals and an opportunity to study without interruption. These students also rarely spent any money at the school canteen even when it was evident that they were hungry. What was sad about this is that often times these were bright students.
You see every year a high numbers of candidates sit for the KCPE exams with those who sat for it in 2015 being a whopping 927,401. However, a good number of these students will miss out on the chance to join secondary school due to lack of fees. Sadly, since the bursary fund was moved to the Constitutional Development Fund under the control of politicians, getting the bursary has become all about who you know rather than merit. There are even cases of children of well to do and connected parents accessing the bursaries at the expense of deserving students. The situation is so grim that during the awarding of the ‘Wings to Fly’ scholarships, Dr. James Mwangi chairman of the Equity Foundation even requested the government to provide free secondary education for all students.
Other than the likes of Equity and KCB there are many other organizations that are willing to sponsor bright but needy students. Here are some places where one can find a helping hand.
The Kenya Education Fund
Kenya Education Funds (KEF) scholarships are given on the basis of two major criteria: need & merit. Since 2001, the KEF has given more than a thousand needy Kenyan girls and boys scholarships to hundreds of different high schools scattered across Kenya.
If you are interested in applying for a KEF scholarship to high school, you must:
Be in Standard 8, Form 1 or Form 2
Have 290 marks or above on KCPE
Be able to prove that you have no means of paying for high school on your own.
To be considered for the scholarship, the applicant must have completed the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) in the preceding year with a minimum grade of “B”-that is 300 marks and above. The recipient must have received admission to a public or private secondary school that is recognized as such by the Ministry of Education in Kenya.
The scholarship, in most cases, will cover 100% of the tuition, dormitory room and board (where applicable), and other associated costs, such as books, uniforms, travel, and a monthly stipend (pocket money).Elimu Fund scholarships are awarded for four years and disbursed annually, based on satisfactory performance.
The ‘Get on the Bus’ scholarship is an initiative supported by the Nation Media Group staff (NMG) which sponsors 25 students each from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. A large number of the scholarship beneficiaries are orphans and vulnerable children who have excelled, and are nationally in the top tier. This program just does not stop there. They also offer mentorship which includes career guidance, imparting life skills and job placement for students during the holidays, equipping them with exposure to the work environment.
Hilde Back Education Fund Scholarships
Hilde Back Education Fund (HBEF) is a charitable community-based group registered under the laws of Kenya that aims to help bright but needy students.
To be eligible for the scholarship you have to meet the following requirements:
Be a Kenyan citizen.
Have sat K.C.P.E. in a public primary school in Githunguri, Kikuyu, Homabay, Kibwezi, Likuyani, Narok and Tharaka South Counties and obtained at least 380 marks.
Be an orphan or from a needy family.
The sponsorship will cover tuition fee only for a period of four years of secondary education. Beneficiaries are expected to maintain good academic performance to continue with the sponsorship. Interested students should complete and submit the HBEF Scholarship application form available at HBEF offices in Nairobi and in all the respective County Education office.
Helping Youth through Educational Scholarships
HYTES is a Canadian not-for-profit organization that raises funds in Canada to provide scholarships in developing nations. Their current focus is on paying for secondary tuition costs for financially challenged students in Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and Guatemala.
This scholarship program sponsors students who are already enrolled in high school. Many times needy students have to depend on well-wishers whose support is rarely consistent.
On reference from the Principal the students can go ahead and apply for the Madeira Scholarship. After the student’s application is accepted, Akili Dada will take up the financial obligations until her graduation from high school.
To be eligible for the scholarship the student must be female, from a poor family and have scored 425 out of 500 marks.
Kenya Community Development Foundation Scholarship
KCDF scholarships are for a maximum period of 4 years for students admitted to secondary schools .The grants can only be used for school fees (boarding examination and tuition fees).
Priority is given to organizations that encourage the beneficiary students’ families and communities to make at least some contribution towards the expenses of the student in order to benefit a greater number of students.
The scholarship will initially benefit the selected candidates for a period of one academic year from the date of award. Thereafter continued sponsorship will be determined by KCDF on the basis of the students’ academic performances and discipline records.
This is a program that supports bright and needy students from Western Kenya. It is a collaborative program that works closely with the community to The program is currently funded through a community matching program. This program matches funds raised from local Kenyan communities with sponsors in US to offer scholarships to the talented students from challenging backgrounds. In return, students agree to maintain at least a C+ average while the parents and local community agree to cover all remaining fees, incidental charges including those for books, uniform, and school trips.
To date, the Elewana Project has sponsored over 400 students across Busia County (Western Kenya) and beyond. Students are required to communicate with their US/UK sponsor at least once throughout the year.
With all these options there is no reason why bright students should be denied the opportunity to get an education and perhaps be given a fighting chance in the competitive world that we live in.
Give a helping hand to a parent, guardian or community that wants more for their children and share this information, in your own way you might just change someone’s life.