At least 675 needy 2021 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) candidates from Nakuru County have received government scholarships.
Three hundred and one students come from Subukia, Bahati, Nakuru Town East and Nakuru Town West sub counties.
The state-funded Elimu Scholarship Programme was launched at St Monica Catholic Church in Nakuru City on Tuesday.
The Form One students will be sponsored during their four years of secondary education in a programme that is jointly sponsored by the World Bank and the national government and implemented by Equity Bank through Equity Group Foundation on behalf of the Ministry of Education.
Twin sisters Hanan Ahmed and Lohan Ahmed were among the beneficiaries and will now join Nakuru Girls High School.
"I had lost hope of joining Nakuru Girls High School but thank God the Elimu Scholarship programme has come to our rescue in the hour of need. I thank the government for thinking about the poor in the society," said Hanan.
"I will study hard, many students applied [for the scholarships] but I'm one of the few who were lucky. I will work hard and pass my KCSE exam," said Lohan.
Mary Kemboi from Kaptembwa slums will join Kaplong Girls Secondary School.
"I thank the government for coming up with this brilliant and well thought Elimu Scholarship Programme. My mother had lost hope of sending me to Kaplong Girls' Secondary School. I will study hard to accomplish my dream of becoming an engineer," said Mary.
The programme, which was launched in 2019, is considered by education experts as one of the successful Jubilee government programmes. It seeks to boost the 100 per cent transition policy. At least 9,000 students benefit from the programme annually. So far, 18,000 students have benefited.
With an additional 9,000 students benefiting this year, the total number of beneficiaries will hit 27,000. Most of the beneficiaries come from 15 urban informal settlements across the country.
In 2021, a total of 1.2 million pupils sat their KCPE exam across the country.
Nakuru County Director of Education Fred Osewe urged girls who benefited from the government scholarship programme to make good use of the opportunities and avoid early pregnancies.
"Four sub-counties from Nakuru County have snapped nearly half of the beneficiaries and you need to count yourselves lucky," said Mr Osewe.
He urged the beneficiaries to study hard.
"You should stop looking down upon yourselves based on where you come from. Look at where you are and focus on your studies," he said.
Mr Osewe urged parents to ensure their children have a conducive learning environment.
Equity Bank Regional Commercial Manager Stanley Karanja urged the students to remain disciplined.
"The scholarship opportunity will enable the students to embark on a journey that will ultimately transform their future and that of the community. I urge them to work hard during the four years they will enjoy the scholarship," said Mr Ng'ang'a.