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Gov’t, Equity Bank partnership transform education

The partnership between Equity Bank and Kenya government in the education sector has been hailed as an example of how well coordinated Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) can be an agent of transformation for the poor in the society.

Equity Chief Commercial Officer Polycarp Igathe greeting one of the Wings to Fly beneficiaries during the event. Photo by Wagema Mwangi

Equity Group Chief Commercial Officer Polycarp Igathe said close collaboration especially in the education sector where the bank is implementing Elimu Scholarship Program on behalf of the government was an indicator that the PPP model was an effective model of bringing change to a society.

Igathe was speaking at Kenyatta High School in Mwatate where he officiated an event that saw 97 learners from economically weak backgrounds benefit from the bank’s Wings to Fly and Elimu Scholarship Programs.

“We remain committed to work closely with the government to uplift the lives of bright students and help them achieve their dreams,” he said.

Elimu Scholarship Program is a collaborative effort by the government and World Bank that aims at assisting needy students to get access to education. The program is implemented by the Equity Bank.

Wings to Fly is a joint initiative by Equity Bank, MasterCard Foundation and Germany’s KfW Development Bank.

Mr Igathe added that Equity bank was also increasing the beneficiaries of Wings to Fly after the numbers dipped following the ravages of Covid-19 pandemic.

This year, 10,705 learners will join Elimu and Wings to Fly scholarship programs. There were over 100,000 applications received for consideration to join the program. In Taita-Taveta, there are 97 beneficiaries with 50 girls and 47 boys.

This year’s selection is the 12th annual cycle for Wings to Fly scholars. Over 37,000 learners have benefited from Wings to Fly since its inception in 2010. For the Elimu Scholarship program, this is the second intake with over 20,000 learners already in.

The event was attended by Taita-Taveta Deputy Governor Majala Mlaghui, Taveta MP Naomi Shaban and Mwatate Deputy County Commissioner Damaris Kimondo amongst other senior county government officials.

In his speech, Igathe urged other corporate entities to launch such initiatives that would help poor learners access education.

“We could not take all those who sent their applications. There is a great need for other corporate bodies to come on board and help these needy learners get education,” he said.

Igathe further disclosed that the bank had spent over Sh470 million after the outbreak of Covid-19 to cushion over 13,000 learners against the adverse effects of the pandemic.

The money was used to purchase solar-powered radios equipped with a torch and a charging port to allow learners to follow the broadcast lessons under the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development. The bank was also giving sh4,000 monthly stipend to girls under the program and sh3,500 for boys to allow them buy essential items during the times learning was suspended.

“This allowed them to follow the radio lessons from wherever they were,” he explained.

Mlaghui urged the bank to also extend the scholarships to other institutions like Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVETs) to support the needy learners.

She noted that TVETs had become instrumental in equipping the youth with relevant skills that were needed in nation building.

“The needy are also in vocational training centers and they need to be assisted too,” she said.

Taveta MP Naomi Shaban noted that Equity’s Wings to Fly has been felt in the remotest parts of the country while noting that transparency during the targeting phase made the program benefit the truly deserving.

“The process of identifying the needy in Wings to Fly is the most transparent one. This means only the deserving get into the program,” she said.

By Wagema Mwangi

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