Surprise visit brings tears of joy to Mombasa slum learners

Monday, July 5th, 2021 00:00 | By
Prof George Magoha engages Juliana Genevieve at her home in Bangladesh slums. Photo/PD/NDEGWA GATHUNGU

When Maureen Atieno received her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) results, her biggest worry was not being able to join secondary school. 

The 15-year-old orphan, who lives with her aunt in the sprawling Bangladesh slum in Jomvu, Mombasa county, narrates how she had to endure a tough life throughout her childhood since the passing on of her mother in 2008.

“I lost my mother when I was just two years old, and living with my aunt, who washes clothes for people in the neighbourhood to put food on the table has been unbearable, I was on the brim of losing hope, especially when I imagined that I may never be able to continue with my education,” narrates Atieno who scored 299 marks out of the possible 500. 

So, when the Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha recently paid a surprise visit to their single mud-walled room located deep in the densely populated slum, she could not hide the joy that finally her dream to join secondary school would be realised. 

This was evident as she uncontrollably shed tears of joy as she explained her woes to the cabinet secretary.

“It was my first time to see the minister. When I saw him with his visitors entering our house, I started crying, I could not believe it.

I knew my dream to go to secondary school had been realised,” smiles Atieno.

“He told me that I will get a full scholarship to study in a boarding school and all the fees, including my school uniform will be catered for, I was overjoyed,” she recounts.

She had received an admission letter to Hassan Joho Girls Secondary School.

However, after getting the scholarship, her admission was changed to Nyia Girls High School. 

Her aunt, Elizabeth Akinyi, a mother of seven children applauded the government for the programme, saying that her daughter will achieve her dreams of becoming an accountant in future.

“I am so happy that my daughter is among the beneficiaries of this scholarship, I want to thank the government for considering her plight, and she deserves a good education, just like any other child. I will be happy to see her achieve her education dreams,” said Akinyi. 

Prof Magoha who was accompanied by education partners in the programme, also visited the home of 14-year-old Ann Akinyi, who also secured the scholarship. Akinyi scored 342 marks at Amani Primary School, Mikindani.

Akinyi, who is left with one parent after her father abandoned them after Covid-19 struck, was previously shortlisted to attend Chebukaka Girls Secondary School in Bungoma county is happy to join academic giant Lugulu Girls High School, still in Bungoma county, after the government changed her admission so that she can benefit fully from the scholarship.

“My husband, who was our bread winner left us financially disabled. My daughter was not to join secondary school were it not for this scholarship,” said Akinyi’s 32-year-old mother Lucy Awino, who now depends on casual jobs to earn a living. 

At the Mkupe Village, also in the slum, Juliana Genevieve, 15 who completed her primary education at Kwa Shehe Primary School and scored 319 marks will be joining Ribe Girls, a boarding school. 

Brought up by a single mother, she applauded the government for considering her application in the scholarship programme.

Her family now believes that their daughter will bring change into their lives when she achieves her education dreams.

“I had lost hope, the only choice I had was to get married, but God is faithful,” narrates Genevieve, shortly after the education CS visited their single-room house made from corrugated iron sheets.

The Elimu Scholarship Programme is a Kenyan government-run education scholarship funded by the World Bank through the Ministry of Education and the Equity Group Foundation targeting 9,000 vulnerable pupils across the country. 

The scholarship seeks to improve secondary education in Kenya, and takes care of school fees and the cost of transport and learning materials for the students.

“Out of the 9,000 beneficiaries, 3,000 of them will come from urban slums, and the government will sponsor everything, including the students’ uniforms and food in school.

I will talk to the president and see if we can increase the beneficiaries to 36,000 in the near future,” Prof Magoha said. 

Good plan

Sixty-two bright pupils from poor backgrounds, who sat their KCPE examinations in Bangladesh slum, have been awarded scholarships to pursue secondary education through the programme.

“I express my satisfaction with the selection process. This is indeed a good government plan to help the vulnerable.

I have personally seen the status of the beneficiaries and I can say that they indeed need help,” said Magoha. 

The programme, which is being financed through the Secondary Education Quality Improvement Project (SEQIP) is meant to benefit candidates from 110 targeted sub-counties and 15 urban centres with informal settlements who attained 280 marks and above.

In order to realise the goal of affirmative action, candidates who are orphans or who hail from vulnerable communities and those with special needs and disabilities who attained below 280 marks were given special consideration.

The programme is meant to boost the government’s 100 per cent transition policy introduced last year and will support 18,000 learners from needy and vulnerable households on full four-year secondary school scholarships, selected in two cohorts of 9,000 each.

It will be rolled out at a cost of Sh3 billion within a period of two years.

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