By David Mwangale
At Friends School Kamusinga, it was song and dance as Governor Wycliffe Wangamati met 650 students who benefited from inaugural County Scholarship Fund.
Tears flowed freely…tears of joy as the students and parents took turns to share their testimonies and experiences on the last day of their two-day mentoring programme.
Addressing the Governor, the students told of touching stories of complete lack, of abject poverty, of dispossession and total hopelessness but they also told stories of triumph and hope, of patience and courage, of promise and second chances that came by way of County scholarships.
Through the narrations, there was not one dry cheek as parents, students, elected leaders and County officials including the Governor shed tears of joy.
Rodney Wanyama told of his story…a story that is all too common in our families and homes. According to Rodney, he first sat his KCPE in 2014 and scored 304 marks but instead of joining Form 1, he went back to Class 7 for lack of fees.
In 2016, he sat KCPE, recording a marked improvement with 394 marks this time but could not proceed to High School again for lack of fees.
Not giving up, Rodney sat KCPE a third time in 2017 and scored 411 marks. This time, there was help through the County Scholarship Fund. Today, Rodney is a student at Kapsabet National School.
Then there was Tatyana, the top girl at Bungoma DEB – a daughter to a single mum. Despite posting 422 marks, there was little to celebrate for her…that was until the County stepped in to sponsor her and another 800 needy students admitted to National and Extra County Schools. Tatyana, who is at Pangani Girls, was Position 1 out of 600 students in Form 1.
Parents of beneficiary students spoke blessings upon the Governor, his family and the County Government for stepping in and ensuring their children attended the schools they had been admitted to.
In his address, Governor Wangamati congratulated the students for scoring the marks that earned them a place in national schools and urged their parents to guide them through school.
He paid a glowing tribute to Rodney and his mother for not giving up on education and life. Drawing on Rodney’s experience, the Governor challenged other beneficiaries not to give up but rather maximize this opportunity to attain the highest possible marks.
H.E. reiterated his commitment to ensure all needy students have a fair chance in life through quality education. “Its my intention to keep this programme for the duration I will be in office,” he said, further promising to scale up this programme in future in to an “Airlift Scholarship Scheme” so that high achieving students from the County at Form 4 level can attend Ivy League universities in the world like Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge and Yale.
Drawing on his life, Governor Wangamati said he would not be what he is today if he had not benefited from a scholarship that earned him a place at a top university in the UK.
The Deputy Governor H.E. Prof Ngome told the beneficiaries to work hard, saying they should not take it for granted that because they are attending top schools, they will simply pass if they did not work hard.
Organised by the County Government, the Mentoring Programme seeks to enlighten the students on why they were picked for the scholarship and their responsibility as pioneers of the programme.
The beneficiaries were also taken through life skills, career choice, how to cope in school and the importance of keeping personal discipline.
Themed “Empowering the youth through quality, affordable and sustainable Education in Bungoma County”, the programme was organised by the County’s Department of Education.
In February, Governor Wycliffe Wangamati took the unprecedented step to sponsor all needy students admitted to national and extra county schools. Each of the qualifying students had their full tuition, fare to school and shopping paid for by the County Government.
About 800 students have so far benefited from the scholarship scheme.