Fury over move to strike off 700 students from Lamu County bursary list

 Issa Timamy.

Lamu Governor Issa Timamy.  He insists that students who receive county funding must score at least grade C (plain) in their school exams.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

A section of Lamu MPs and residents have criticised a decision by the county government to remove more than 700 students from the list of beneficiaries of the devolved unit's bursary and scholarship programme for failing to score good grades in secondary school.

The county, led by Governor Issa Timamy, funds students who score more than 250 marks in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education through to secondary school.

Last year, Mr Timamy announced that students receiving county funding would be required to achieve at least Grade C (Plain) in their school examinations in order to continue to benefit from the bursary and scholarships.

At the beginning of this term, the county scrutinised the results of the beneficiaries and found that more than 700 who had passed the KCPE had scored below Grade C in their last secondary school examinations.

Addressing the public at Lamu Boys Primary School during a prize-giving ceremony on Saturday, lawmakers led by Nominated Senator Shakila Abdalla expressed their dissatisfaction with the county's move.

"I am unhappy with the county's decision to remove the 700 students from the bursary programme. This means that these needy students, especially girls, will be forced to drop out of school and get married. The boys may end up abusing drugs. I urge you, Governor Timamy, to reconsider your decision. We will be happy to see the students back on the list of beneficiaries. It's their right under the Kenyan constitution," said Ms Abdalla.

 Her views were echoed by some residents, including parents, who stressed that the county's bursary and scholarship programme was their only hope for their children to pursue higher education.

Simon Kamau, from Hindi, expressed his disappointment at the way the Lamu County government continues to subject its students to so many demands before they can benefit from the bursary scheme.

"For a child to be considered for a scholarship in Lamu, you've got to score between 250 and 300 marks in KCPE. I don't see the need for the county to track these students again and introduce other unnecessary demands. If one qualifies for the scholarship, set them free. This will give them peace of mind to do better in secondary school," said Mr Kamau.

Ms Aisha Yusuf, a parent, called for a review of the bursary and scholarship programme, noting that some of the beneficiaries were from wealthy families.

"We need a review of the scholarship programme. I suspect that many of the beneficiaries aren't needy students at all. They're benefiting at the expense of the poor learners out there," Ms Yusuf said.

The governor, however, insisted that underperforming students would not be reconsidered for the county bursary.

Mr Timamy says the money spent on the bursary scheme is public money and it's unfair to fund someone's education when they have got an E grade in their school examinations.

"Others are so irresponsible that they don't even do their exams. Those who didn't get grade C (plain) have been informed that they will no longer receive the bursary," said Mr Timamy.

The county chief defended his decision, adding that it was to ensure that the county's resources were put to good use.

"We also want to increase the number of students admitted to university in our county," he said.