Only constitutional amendments to increase NG/CDF funding to highly populated constituencies can save learners from those regions attain better education, Thika MP Patrick Wainaina has said.
Wainaina who was speaking while issuing Sh35 million worth of bursaries to some 15,000 needy students from his constituency said the amount that learners from those areas receive as bursaries was too minimal to clear school fees arrears due to increased demand.
He cited the millions of shillings that he gave out saying some students would get as low as Sh2, 500 that cannot clear school fees. He said the situation has been made difficult by the high cost of living, making it hard for parents to afford school fees.
“From that huge bursary allocation, some students have received as low as Sh2, 500 against Sh40, 000 fees arrears. This has disadvantaged learners from highly populated areas because in other constituencies which are less populated, students are getting close to Sh50, 000, enough to clear school fees for a year. Some of these imbalances should be addressed through the constitution,” said Wainaina.
During the push for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) constitutional amendment that was annulled by the Supreme Court this year, highly populated constituencies were to be split to increase funding and address such imbalances.
Thika Constituency for example, was to be split into two and thus receive twice the NG/CDF it gets.
The MP who said the bursary disbursements would help several cash-strained parents struggling to settle second-term school fees for their children.
“The bursaries were given to the neediest students because we know how our families have been hit by the high cost of living and the covid-19 aftershocks. We know the funds are not enough and there is little we can do because the demand is so huge,” he said.
He said during his tenure, at least Sh140 million to over 60,000 learners has been disbursed to needy learners.
The beneficiaries led by Susan Wanjiku lauded the initiative saying at least children would be retained at school for some time.
They however called on the next government that would be elected in August to consider offering free primary and secondary education to help learners realize their life dreams.
“Most children are home due to lack of school fees. The bursaries will help ease the frustrations that parents have been going through during this period when the cost of living is unbearable and at least keep the children at school. What we can ask the upcoming government to do is to make education free so that we can help the children realize their dreams,” said Wanjiku.
By Muoki Charles