It is very sad and discouraging to hear stories of bright yet poor students are not able to join form one despite scoring high marks. Lack of fees being the only stumbling block. Having miss out on bursaries and scholarships, some of them are force to repeat to try their luck again. Their bright future slowly fading away. All their hard work goes to drain. This is the plight of bright but needy students. Students whose families or guardians struggle to put food on the table. Therefore they cannot afford to pay fees for their high school education. Even those who have managed to pay for form one first term fee, struggle to pay for the rest of their remaining high school life.
Lack of fee is one of the major contributors of the high number of high school dropouts. Student who fails to clear their school term fees often spent more time on the road than at school, in search of school fees. This affects their performances, as they are always have to play catch up upon their return. Some are forced to drop out when they totally fail clear their balance.
The government allocates billions of shillings into bursary schemes administered through MPs and members of Counties Assembly. This money is meant to help poor students. One problem is that the fund is not enough to satisfy all, due to the high number of students applying for bursaries. Most counties have a high number of people living below poverty line. Another problem is that the fund could be distributed with political interest in mind by the political administrators. Some may spread it too thin to reach more beneficiaries in exchange of votes, without care as to whether it is serving its purpose or not. Imagine being given a bursary of Ksh 3,000 yet the school fees is Ksh 50,000. It just doesn’t make sense.
These challenges calls for an overhaul of the whole bursary system. The new system needs to serve as many students as possible. We can emulate the success of HELB and apply it on the high school level. Needy students can apply for bursaries just the way it is done with the HELB system. The system should be centralized to avoid cases where some students applies for bursary in two different constituencies. Centralization of the system can also help in situation where some constituencies receives more applications than others. This will ensure that the funds is properly distributed throughout the country. It will also eliminate rogue politicians who are mostly interested in their own political welfare than the applicants’ welfare.
For these bright but poor student to continue with their education they need support. Support from the government can come from efficient and effective bursary distribution system.
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