NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 1 – President Mwai Kibaki has directed the Ministers for Finance and Education to work out modalities to increase the available spaces in secondary schools to admit the growing number of students exiting primary schools.
President Kibaki, at the same time, assured that his government would allocate funds in the coming budget to employ more teachers to reduce the prevailing shortage in the country.
In order to achieve the education goals as envisaged in the country’s development blueprint, Vision 2030, the president said the partnership of the government, the private sector and development partners is required.
“My government will, therefore, continue to promote an environment that encourages collaboration between the public and the private sectors as well as development partners,” President Kibaki said.
The Head of State was speaking on Wednesday at Kasarani International Sports Centre during the commissioning of the Equity Group Foundation/MasterCard Foundation and USAID ‘Wings to fly’ 2012 scholarships.
Following his appeal for other organizations to join the Equity Group and the MasterCard Foundation to expand the scholarship fund, President Kibaki said it was gratifying that USAID has since joined the program and is sponsoring 1,136 children this year.
“It is gratifying that the number of scholars under this program has more than doubled since last year when I launched this program. The program has so far offered scholarships to 3,632 students as part of a 10,000 scholarships target,” the president said.
The president thanked the government of the United States for supporting the program and urged more organizations to complement ongoing efforts to boost the education sector.
He applauded the close interaction that is developing between industry and the education sector, saying the partnership will positively enhance the development of education in the country.
Emphasizing the importance of education in developing the requisite human capital to move the country from a developing to a middle level economy, President Kibaki said his Government’s policy on education has focuses on enhancing access, equity and quality at all levels as outlined in Sessional Paper No. 1 of 2005.
The President pointed out that the introduction of the Free Primary Education in 2003 was part of the policy and commitment of the Government to expand access and give Kenyan children a strong foundation in education as well as prepare them for their future roles in building the nation.
In this regard, President Kibaki noted that the introduction of Free Primary Education has resulted in a significant increase in enrolment at the primary school level which now stands at 9.4 million students, up from 5.9 million in 2003.
Besides the increase in enrolment, the President said the transition rate from primary to secondary has also improved.
Said the President: “Last year, the transition rate from primary to secondary was 72.5 per cent, surpassing our set target of 70 per cent. This year, the transition rate is expected to increase to 74 per cent. This is the highest rate in our nation’s history.”
Noting that the increased number of pupils transiting from primary to secondary has increased the demand for secondary school education places, the President said his Government responded to the challenge by introducing the Free Day Secondary Education in 2008.
This intervention, President Kibaki said, has seen a significant rise in secondary school enrolment which now stands at 1.7 million up from 1.1 million in 2007.
The president expressed satisfaction that the scholarships under ‘Wings to fly’ program were reaching bright children from financially challenged backgrounds.
“It is encouraging that the scholarships are comprehensive covering tuition, boarding, uniform, stipend and travel expenses thus ensuring that the students are fully provided for while in school,” the president said.
In this connection, President Kibaki commended the Equity Group Foundation and the MasterCard Foundation together with their partners for the noble program and urged students who benefit from it to make the best of the opportunity availed to them by taking their education seriously.
“I urge other organizations to render support in this noble undertaking. There is need to secure additional funds to benefit more needy children in the country,” the Head of State remarked.
The President particularly appealed to beneficiaries of the ‘Wings to fly’ program to make full use of the support extended to them and strive to become role models in their schools by setting high goals and standards for themselves.
He told the young scholars, “Avoid many luring activities that may ruin your opportunity to pursue your dreams to the fullest for your own benefit and that of the society.”
During the occasion the Head of State expressed joy at the tremendous achievements realized in the education sector particularly on transition levels and availability of sponsorship to needy students.
He said, “This is my happiest moment. We are celebrating an important achievement with such a big number of students benefiting through opportunities to acquire higher education.”
Addressing the same forum Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka urged the young scholars to rededicate themselves for the task awaiting them because the main challenge lay ahead now that they had benefited from the scholarships.
Thanking President Kibaki for initiating the noble education programme, Musyoka reminded every Kenyan that the FPE was compulsory adding that every child of the right age must be allowed to benefit.
On his part Education Minister Sam Ongeri termed the scholarships a beneficial program which would pay hefty dividends to both the individual students and the nation at large in future.
Others who addressed the colourful ceremony included the President of the MasterCard Foundation, Reeta Roy, the Deputy Ambassador and USAID Representative, Lee Brudvig, Chairman, Equity Bank, Peter Munga and Equity Group Foundation chairman, James Mwangi.
In attendance were acting Finance Minister Njeru Githae, assistant ministers Elizabeth Ongoro and Bishop Margaret Wanjiru, acting Head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Kimemia, Head of the Anglican Church Most Eliud Wabukala, Kenyatta University Vice-Chancellor, Olive Mugenda, members of the diplomatic corps and other senior government officials.