By Waweru Wairimu
When Abdullahi Aliy from Wabera Ward in Isiolo North Constituency scored a B- in the 2012 KCSE exams, he, like many others in the county got into bodaboda business to eke out a living as had no one to support his college education. He wanted to pursue clinical medicine.
It is while in the bodaboda business that the Kaaga Boys alumni decided to get married after losing hope of ever joining college.
“I could not save anything as I was assisting my single mother in providing for my siblings. The dream of pursuing clinical medicine was fading away as responsibilities kept increasing,” Mr Abdullahi said during an interview with the Nation.
But in 2019, Abdullahi got the opportunity to join Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC) Isiolo campus where he is pursuing clinical medicine.
This was after he was offered a scholarship by Isiolo North MP Hassan Odha.
Like hundreds others from needy families in the constituency with seven wards, Abdullahi is happy that he will now achieve his dream and help his family and siblings, most of whom did not manage to proceed to secondary school.
Mohamud Wako Wario, an orphan currently pursuing a teaching course at Egoji Teachers College in Meru County and the first born in a family of four, had also tried bodaboda business after school.
“I got a C plain in 2014 and having no parents to support my education, I ventured into bodaboda business to help my brother and two sisters, one of whom is disabled,” he said.
The programme, under the Isiolo North National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF), is changing fortunes for young people in the region where many drop out of school for lack of fees and thereafter venture mainly into bodaboda business.
Authorities have always complained over the influx of school boys in the bodaboda business.
Most of them join the trade after they sent home for fees, something which has been cited as a key impediment to the government’s bid to ensure 100 per cent transition from primary to secondary schools.
While NG-CDF seems to have lost significance in some constituencies, youth from poor families in Isiolo North have testified how the constituency fund has become a game-changer in reducing illiteracy levels and poverty in the county in the long run.
Nadi Izack, a fourth year financial engineering student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, who almost dropping out while in first year over financial constraints, is now finishing her studies in April 2020 courtesy of the scholarship that she got while in second year.
“I missed some lectures and exams while in first year and was almost dropping out of university. The scholarship came in handy and I am elated that I am finally finishing my studies,” she said.
On the other hand, Abdilatif Mohamed is among the four lawyers-to-be who have benefited from the scholarship programme and who are expected to be admitted to the bar this month.
Four engineering students at different universities across the country and who are beneficiaries of NG-CDF scholarships will also be graduating this year.
Milkah Kawira, whose elder sister dropped out of the University of Nairobi for lack of fees, is hopeful that she will change fortunes for her family once she completes a degree course in special needs education at Kenyatta University.
“Life was miserable in my first two years in college as my parents struggled to pay my fees. Since I got the scholarship, they have been comfortably providing for my upkeep as my fees are fully catered for. When I finish studies and get a job, I will comfortably help in educating my younger siblings,” said Ms Kawira.
Another beneficiary, Peter Nokalario, who scored a C+ at Waso Secondary School, is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in science (Chemistry and Mathematics) while 15-year-old Garo Hokicha from Merti who scored 338 marks in the 2018 KCPE exams is now studying at Mama Ngina High School in Mombasa County, courtesy of the constituency scholarship project.
The legislator’s office has spent Sh27,144,000 since the inception of the programme in 2017.
Currently, the number of beneficiaries stands at 156 with 75 per cent being orphans while the remaining are from needy families.
MP Odha says the full scholarship programme that mostly caters for needy students pursuing medical and teaching courses aims at dealing with local shortage of crucial personnel.
“The programme acts as an incentive for the students to pursue the courses and fill the shortage gaps in the health sector,” he said.
The MP said the county is currently experiencing a shortage of radiologists, nurses and clinicians, lawyers and even engineers,” said Mr Odha.
STOP EARLY MARRIAGES
He said the scholarship programme has also helped to ensure that girls do not get lured into early marriages.
Under the programme, students at KMTC, teachers training colleges and public universities get Sh80,700, Sh70,000 and between Sh27,000 to Sh39,000 respectively every year.
Upon graduation of the first batch of beneficiaries in the course of the year, Mr Odha said they will be replaced with same number for sustainability of the programme.
While reiterating his commitment to improving school infrastructure for better performance, the lawmaker encouraged the beneficiaries to also help the poor in the society after finishing their studies.
“I schooled as an orphan and I know how challenging it is for students from such families. This programme aims at supporting them and those from very poor families,” the MP noted.
Parents from the constituency have hailed the programme for its tremendous achievement and have called on the county government to follow suit.
“If millions of shillings have done all these, the billions that our county receives from the National Treasury would do wonders if properly managed,” said an agitated Abdi Kasim.
He lashed out at the county government for disbursing as little as Sh3,000 per student in bursaries.