Over 45,000 students to get 100pc State scholarship in public varsities

Ezekiel Machogu

Education CS Ezekiel Machogu addresses the press after a meeting regarding an inquiry into alleged mass cheating in the 2022 KCSE examinations at Pride Inn Paradise in Mombasa County on May 18, 2023.

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi I Nation Media Group

Some 45,000 students who sat 2022 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education  (KCSE) exams will get 100 percent scholarships from the government, Education Cabinet Secretary (CS) Ezekiel Machogu announced.

CS Machogu said the State came up with a new funding model which he exuded confidence will work. The model will particularly favor students from poor families who will get 100 per cent scholarships.

“About 45,000 of our students are going to get 100 per cent scholarships from the government. There are those Kenyans who can afford a university education, for instance Mr Melly who is an MP, the government does not have to provide a scholarship for his child in university,” said the CS.

According to the CS all the 173,127 candidates who attained the minimum university entry grade of C+ in the 2022 KCSE Examination that they qualify to be placed to join campus. Those with C (plain) and below will be absorbed in TVET institutions across the country.

“As announced by the President, at least 45,000 students from needy and vulnerable backgrounds will access university education without paying any fees as the Government will meet their full costs of education,” said the CS.

At the same time, the Ministry of Education has explained why private universities have missed out on the grants after the government came up with a new model favoring students seeking education from public institutions of higher learning.

In line with the new funding model for universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (Tvet) colleges, government scholarships will only be granted to students who choose public institutions. 

Those who choose private institutions will only be eligible for education loans from the Higher Education Loans Board. 

Mr Machogu and the National Assembly Education Committee led by its chairperson, Mr Julius Melly said the government will only fund students placed in public universities after the government discovered that Sh13 billion given to private institutions of higher learning for the last six years was unaudited.

“The only time that they were audited was 2018/2019 and you know you cannot be able to give public funds to a private entity that is not subjected to auditing,” said the CS during the interrogation of Ministry of Education officials in regards to the inquiry on the alleged mass cheating in the 2022 KCSE examinations.

The CS said public funds must be accounted for.

“If you want your child to go to a private university, we will not say no, open the portal and select those institutions and their fee structure is also available. But the only thing you will miss out on is the grant, the scholarship from the government,” he said.

Mr Melly lauded the State for the new funding model saying it will boost accountability. The Tinderet MP said private universities are private ventures. 

“The government has its own institutions, more so private universities are personal businesses. If they want students they can advertise. Any student going to a public university will get a scholarship. But those from poor families will get 100 per cent scholarship, the middle class will get around 60 per cent and the rest can seek loans,” he said.

Mr Melly urged the state to continue funding public universities to boost the institutions which have been grappling with financial challenges.

Prepare to pay

The MP urged parents taking their children to private universities should prepare to pay.    

“It is an accountability model. It is the accountability of public resources, these funds do not belong to the President, the CS, or the chairman but to the public and should be used for the public. We laud the state for the reforms undertaken in our universities. Before, there was a bad tendency for the State to issue grants anyhow. However, currently, the state has pronounced itself, it will issue funds according to programmes and students,” said the MP.

He went on: “If a student uses Sh200,000 in a year in the education program, you must be issued the same amount; if its Sh500,000 in a medicine course, you must be given the same amount. Not for the State to just dish out Sh3 billion cheque for a certain university without knowing it is for which number of students,”

With the new model, the Tinderet MP explained that the State will know the number of students going for certain courses in the university and fund each according to its department.    

However, Mr Melly explained that university students from public universities who are in the second, third and fourth year, the State will continue giving them grants until they complete their studies.

He said Kenyans should be considerate of their colleagues who cannot afford a university education.

The CS said candidates who sat the 2022 KCSE (869,782) can apply for placement to universities and colleges following the launch of the placement on Wednesday.

In February, 35 Vice Chancellors from public universities said their institutions are crippling due to financial challenges.

In their proposed interventions on key strategic issues bedeviling the institutions of higher learning, the vice-chancellors also want the National Treasury and Planning to institute immediate measures to start clearing the pending Pension Bill amounting to Sh19.6 billion in targeted installments. 

“The National Government should take the decisive and necessary decision to write off the pending PAYE bill amounting to Sh18 billion owed to the Kenya Revenue Authority by public universities. The state should remit money to pay the 2017-2021 Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA) in full including arrears amounting to Sh2.9 billion,” read the Universities Fund chief executive officer Mr Geoffrey Monari.

The institutions have accrued debts amounting to Sh60.6 billion in staff pensions and statutory deductions such as Pay As You Earn and National Hospital Insurance Fund. The figure has been growing due to interest.

The University of Nairobi VC Prof Stephen Kiama painted a grim picture of how the institution found itself in a financial hole accusing the Ministry of Education of designing their woes deliberately.

“Some people say we drowned due to governance but that’s not the issue, I have to clarify this matter. It was designed and deliberate. CBA’s were negotiated, financed in retrospect and not forward, what do you do?  Do you raise salaries and continue paying higher salaries? You cannot do that,” added the don.

Prof Kiama said students who were passing were reduced in number and only a few were available for admission in public universities.

“But they were also taken to private universities so that there’s none available particularly for the public institutions. Many universities were affected in a big way. Capitation was reduced, in UON it was reduced by Sh1.7 billion just like that, Treasury resisted but the Ministry was adamant in reducing our capitation from Sh6.2 billion to Sh4.5 billion,” explained Pro Kiama from the UON.  

The dons also proposed an increment of university fees from the current Sh16,000 to a minimum of Sh48,000 and a maximum of Sh96,000 per year.