Bursary funds should be domiciled in the public learning institutions

By Charles Ochieng,

 Since the establishment of the Constituency Development Fund [C.D.F], we have seen many young people realize their dream of basic education and indeed its impact cannot be underrated. It is sufficient to note that it has to a larger extent responded to the constitutional obligation that sets out basic education up to secondary form four levels in Kenya. It must be noted that although primary education in Kenya is compulsory, it is not free and even public schools have many extra charges that are beyond ordinary Kenyans hence the need to relook at how our learning institutions are funded for the full realization of the constitutional obligation of basic education up to form four.

The constituency development fund’s establishment was a bright idea although was never anchored well to align with our constitution and the matter is still before our courts for determination. This fund under the patronage of members of parliament has been used in many cases by politicians to reward their supporters at the detriment of those who held different opinions during the election period, thereby leaving a good number of the populace out of its intended benefit. There has been also a lack of public education on the Constituency Development Fund especially when it comes to the provision of bursaries to the members of the public, hence the ever-skewed nature of its distribution over the years.

The bursary that falls under the constituency development fund should be channeled directly to the schools within the respective constituencies, and its management be done through Parent Teachers’ Associations, School Boards of Governors, and area Local leadership structures within the constituency. Local leaders such as the area chief and members of nyumba kumi are instrumental in the identification of the needy cases within a constituency and hence are better placed to mop out all needy cases for the benefit of the bursary allocation. At the school level, teachers armed with historical background in terms of school fees payment can also help in ensuring that needy cases are factored in during the allocation of bursary funds. The amount allocated to students should not be equal as currently being done but rather on a need-to-need basis. 

For the full realization of Kenyan’s constitutional aspiration of free basic education especially to the needy and vulnerable, there needs to be a proper mechanism in place to ensure that the beneficiaries of the bursary at the constituency level are seen through to the full realization of their basic education and this should be seen through continuous support from the same kitty, not a one-off support program that is mostly the case hence the need to engage teachers through Parent Teachers Association instead of politicians who are more interested in numbers of beneficiaries which to them translate to votes in subsequent elections.

It is sufficient to note that there have been claims of double or multiple allocations of bursaries to some students where students benefit from bursaries from different funds and in some instances collude with school management to embezzle the funds. To address this challenge the names of students benefiting from bursary funds from different sources must be made public and shared with relevant authorities and management. This will ensure that those students that have benefited from other sources give room for other students to benefit from the bursaries from Constituency Bursary Fund thereby realizing equity and justice for all. The school management through head teachers, Parents Teachers Association, and Board of Governors should be the custodian of the information which must be made available at request by government agencies for audit and scrutiny.

Since education is the most equalizer when it comes to development, counties that lag behind in terms of basic education for their populace be given more help and support for a just society to be realized. And in the words of Nelson Mandela let’s Use education to the vulnerable in our society as ‘a powerful weapon for which to change the world’.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *