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NGO supports govt’s education improvement efforts

At least 50 day scholars from Our Lady of Mercy Girls Secondary School can now access their learning institution with ease and in time, courtesy of Grow Against Poverty-Kenya (GAP), a Non-Governmental organisation.

The relief comes after the organisation donated 50 bicycles to bright but needy girls drawn from Forms One and Two who have to trek for more than six kilometres to reach school every day.

Speaking to the press during the donation of the bicycles at the school on Tuesday, the Founder of GAP Kenya, Ms. Hellen Mukanda, said that the pedal power cost Sh 1.55 million, inclusive of the branded reflective vests, tool kits  and helmets.

“Today, we are giving 50 quality-branded buffalo bicycles to 50 female students so that we can play a role in quality education and support the government in achieving 100 per cent transition,” she said.

She noted that the initiative will also protect the girls from being taken advantage of by unruly boda boda riders who attempt to give them free transport to school in exchange for sex.

She added that such dealings led a number of girls to teenage pregnancies and school dropouts.

“I want to urge the public to support this project so that the girls can remain in school,” she said, adding that if the girls succeed in their education, they will realise their dreams and be able to give back to society.

The CEO urged the parents of the beneficiaries to support them in terms of maintenance, ensuring that the bicycles are maintained, and carrying out basic repairs. “These bicycles belong to the school, but the children are loaned them so that in case they transition, they remain at school,” she explained.

The organisation has been in Busia for 14 years and has given out 315 bicycles to students across six schools, excluding the 50 that were given to Our Lady of Mercy Girls students.

“Overall, we have reached 5,000 students; indirectly, this is motivation,” she said, adding there has been increased enrollment, improved academic performance, and reduced absenteeism.

She further said that the beneficiary schools have also exhibited discipline because the programme demands that both parents and students be disciplined so that they can continue receiving support.

Mukanda said at the same time that the organisation is also willing to support the school in carrying out organic vegetable farming, which can help in getting money for maintaining the bicycles.

“We have already started such programmes in some schools in Nambale Sub County,” she said, adding that they are also willing to support young mothers who are out of school and children who have dropped out, and they want technology ideas to tap into government businesses.

The School principal, Esther Wanyama, welcomed the initiative, stating that it will make their movement easier, improve their academic performance, and reduce absenteeism in school.

Ms. Wanyama pointed out that the school has around 500 day scholars, most of whom have to trek long distances in search of education.

The Vice Chairman of the Schools Board of Management, Vincent Kwena, thanked the organisation for the support, adding that the move will be a big relief for the beneficiaries who travel long distances to school.

“Some trek for as long as six kilometres to school, and the moment they arrive, they are already tired, so their concentration in class is affected,” he said.

Mr. Kwena further stated that the initiative will also be a relief to parents who had to set aside some budget to transport the beneficiaries to school. “The students are normally expected to be in school by 6.30 am, and therefore they have to risk their lives by waking up as early as 4.00 am,” he said.

He advised the parents of the beneficiaries to ensure that the bicycles are used for their intended purpose.

Ms. Margret Ellea, a parent of one of the beneficiaries from Aget village in Teso South Sub County, thanked the organisation for the support, adding that it will be an economic relief to her family.

“I usually spend Sh70 in the morning and Sh70 in the evening for transport due to these harsh economic times,” she said, adding that at times her daughter is forced to walk to school and arrive at around 8:00 am, contrary to the stipulated 6.30 am.

Student beneficiaries also thanked the organisation, adding that it will not only make their movement easy but also give them ample time to concentrate on their studies and shield them from evil men who are out to exploit them sexually by luring them through free transport.

By Victoria Magar and Salome Alwanda

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