By Betty Luke
A 15-year-old girl who was contemplating joining her mother in charcoal burning venture after sitting last year’s KCPE exams has breathed a sigh of relief after securing a four-year Secondary education scholarship.
Ms Noro Loote, who scored 295 marks at Oldonyiro Primary School, had given up on ever joining Secondary School due to poverty at home.
The fourth born in a family of five said she was ready to support her mother’s charcoal burning business to assist in providing for her younger siblings.
“I knew my mother was not able to support my secondary education as I had seen her struggle so much while I was in Primary School. Every time I was sent away for tuition fees, I would join her in the business,” she told The Press Point.
To her, it was crystal clear that if no one lend a helping hand, she would remain a normal village girl who would later be married off possibility to an older man.
“I was really worried that my life would lack meaning but had nothing to do,” she said.
But with the desire to continue with her education rife, she applied for Elimu scholarship offered by Equity Bank in partnership with the national government.
In what she terms miraculous, she was among the 10 students picked from a list of 396 applicants who will have their education cost fully taken care of.
“I learnt of the program through our church and decided to give it a try. I am so happy that they have considered me and I will do my best not to disappoint the sponsors,” she told journalists.
The World-Bank program supports learners from needy background to join public secondary schools across the country.
The beneficiaries were selected by a committee comprising different education stakeholders from across the county.
Speaking while flagging off this year’s cohort in Isiolo town, the selection committee chair Mr Peter Njuguna said they had carefully scrutinized the cases of all the beneficiaries and came up with the most vulnerable cases.
He however called upon other well-wishers to come in and assist those who had performed well but did not make it to the final list of Elimu Scholarship beneficiaries.
“We had a hard task of scrutinizing who to pick and who not to because majority of the cases were genuine. We only picked a few due to our limited resources and therefore urge other corporate institutions to assist those we dropped,” said Mr Mwangi.
County Parents Association chair Ismael Galma hailed the program saying it was a huge relief to parents who were unable to enrol their children to school.
His sentiments were echoed by Senior Assistant County Commissioner Peter Mwangi who maintained that the government was keen to ensure that no school going children remained at home due to lack of fees.
The administrator chided parents who seek scholarships for their children while they have the capability to take care of their education.
“It is a shame for parents who despite having adequate resources to educate their children still want to benefit from the few available opportunities meant for the poor,” he said.
Religious leaders led by Interfaith Network Chairperson Ahmed Sett and Fr John Murithi urged parents not to abdicate parental role to the sponsors but to do a follow-up so as to contribute in their children’s wellbeing.
“Our parents should also be responsible as far as the upbringing of our children is concerned. Talk to your children and instill into them the right morals,” Mr Sett said.
Apart from school fees, the beneficiaries also get pocket money, shopping, uniform, and transport to and from school as well as mentorship throughout the four years.
A total of 288 students from the county have so far benefited from the program.