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Politics and intrigues of scholarships: Leaders accused of weaponising bursaries

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Teachers’ unions are calling for an independent body to run bursary funds as politicians are on the spot for weaponising the funds.

Photo credit: File

Politicians are on the spot for the weaponisation of bursary funds with teachers’ unions calling for an independent body to run the scheme.

In some cases, politicians demand proof from parents that they are voters in a given electoral area before their children are eligible to receive money from the bursary kitty.

In other instances, desperate parents are humiliated by the same leaders they elected as they seek support for their children’s education.

The Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) and National Parents Association (NPA) now want an independent body to determine the allocation of the bursary funds.

The unionists regretted that some elected leaders mostly want their constituents to benefit from the kitty at the expense of needy learners.

A case in point is that of Nakuru Town West Member of Parliament Samuel Arama insulting parents who sought bursary forms at the constituency office in a video that has gone viral.

“Go and come back, these forms are being issued for one month. There is no money being given out tomorrow. You are many...forms are given out here every day, from today until March. Why are you all coming today as if the forms are finished? I think you people have started becoming idlers,” he is quoted as saying.

"I did not invite you to queue here as if you have no work to do. Why are you all coming here? It seems you don't have work to do. Keep coming every day and continue idling here. You people want to be stupid. We will change and issue the forms via the website. You will pay Sh20 to get the forms.


Nakuru Town West MP Samuel Arama in a Nairobi court on June 25, 2018.

Photo credit: File

"By not putting the forms on the website for you to pay Sh20,I wanted to help you, but you are becoming stupid. You cannot see you are becoming stupid?" he said as he chased away people.

My Arama also ordered people with disabilities to pick the forms on the final day.

When the Nation asked the MP about the video, he appeared unbothered. He said there was nothing bad about his statement and how he treated his constituents.

“I simply meant that it was wrong for them to come in their hundreds on a single day yet we have been issuing the forms for a whole month. There was nothing wrong in that,” said Mr Arama, noting that the overcrowding was unnecessary.

National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) board chairperson Olago Aluoch appears to side with the MPs who demand a voters’ card before getting money from the bursary kitty. He said this is a deterrent for those who would want to be double beneficiaries.

"To avoid all this confusion, MPs use applicants’ voters cards. Alternatively, the MPs use IDs of parents or guardians who are voters in a given constituency," he said Mr Aluoch.

 Akelo Misori

The Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) Secretary-General Akelo Misori.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

He, however, indicated that the NG-CDF Board is in the process of digitising its operations.

"We will be able to know where people have applied to avoid duplication," said Mr Aluoch.

Kuppet Secretary-General Akelo Misori, who wants an independent body to run the scholarship schemes for equitable distribution to needy learners.

“All learners need to access quality education irrespective of political affiliation,” he said.

National Parents’ Association chairman Silas Obuhatsa said many learners have dropped out of school due to irregular allocation of the funds.

“There should be proper structure on how the bursaries are distributed. The matter need not be politicised," said Mr Obuhstsa.

In Nyamira, Governor Amos Nyaribo stunned Kenyans when he said only registered voters in the county are eligible for the county education scholarship.

“Those whose parents are not voters in Nyamira, you belong elsewhere where your parents vote. Go and apply for a bursary there. It's like that,” he said while giving scholarships to needy children from the county.

In Saboti, MP Caleb Amisi asked locals to queue at their gazetted polling stations, saying it enhanced openness and accountability.

"Money allocated to bursary is supposed to benefit poor students in the constotuency,” he said.

Additional reporting by Rushdie Oudia