Needy students get bursary from affirmative action fund
Unauthorized levies by primary school managers is an impediment to the development of education in Marsabit County and the local women leadership has called for action to rectify the situation.
Meanwhile, women and youth from the county have faulted some rules guiding access to the National Government Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF) that they said were not achievable.
County Women Representative, Mrs. Nasra Ibrahim also appealed to the local communities to discard customary practices like female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriages which she termed outdated and retrogressive.
Speaking when she officiated at the disbursement of bursary fund and launch of civic education programme on affirmative action for the county at Laisamis Catholic Hall, over the weekend Mrs. Ibrahim said illegal levies were keeping majority of school age children out of class.
She added that shs.1, 820, 000 under NGAAF would benefit 345 bright children from needy background in Marsabit County this financial year.
She lamented that findings had it that head teachers were sending away pupils because of non-payment of unspecified levies despite the government policy on quality and free primary education.
“President Uhuru has on several occasions reiterated that his government is committed to offering universal free primary education and I am asking parents not to pay any unauthorized monies to school management committees,” she said.
The legislator decried the continued practice of retrogressive cultural practices that hindered women’s progress in the local pastoralist communities and called for equal education opportunities for both boys and girls.
Ibrahim also announced that the national government had allocated shs.5 million to the county for affirmative action programmes, a move she said would accelerate growth by supplementing other development agencies.
She pointed out that women and youth constituted more than half of the county’s population and expressed hope that NGAAF would adequately address their needs.
Women and youth groups were expected to access credit to undertake small scale businesses, farming and cottage industries among other income generating activities.
“We expect nurturing of talent among the youth especially in sports and trade through groups to enhance interaction and build harmony among our young people for enhanced cohesion and good relations among us,” Mrs. Ibrahim said.
However, the participants led by Laisamis business vendors self help group chairperson Ms Caroline Dabalen pointed out that the condition requiring a group to consist a hundred members and above was not tenable as it would be uneasy to manage.
She also noted that the targeted were poor women and men in the villages who have no regular sources of income hence the clause requiring prospective groups to have not less than shs.300, 000 in their bank account was a tall order and ill advised.
During the ceremony also attended by Laisamis Deputy County Commissioner (DCC), Ignatius Mukabwa, the MP asked the teachers’ service commission (TSC) to consider deploying more teachers to address a biting shortage in the region.
Responding to arguments by head teachers that they were forced to ask for money from parents to employ teachers owing to shortage of personnel, Mrs. Ibrahim, who is also a member of the Parliamentary education committee, maintained that the levies were unjustified.
She said that the committee had approved huge sums of money to enable TSC to recruit and asked the commission to focus on the needs of counties in hardship areas like Marsabit, Isiolo, Tana River, Garissa, Turkana and Wajir.
The DCC warned against FGM and early marriages which he said were the cause of high drop out by primary school pupils in the area.
Mukabwa appealed to the local women leadership to help in the fight against traditions that were of no good to the residents warning that the law would be hard on those bent on perpetuating the vice.
By Sebastian Miriti