One thousand top performers in the 2023 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) who are academically gifted but financially challenged have been each awarded a comprehensive four-year secondary school scholarship under Equity Group Foundation’s (EGF) Wings to Fly program. The students were drawn from every part of Kenya
These high-achieving scholars have been commissioned following an intensive two-day induction and training program held at Pangani Girls’ High School in Nairobi. They were introduced what to expect in high school, studying methods and expectations including their school performance. The students were further given an in-depth orientation of Equity Group’s Academic Policy and Code of Conduct.
This latest cohort of 2023 brings the total number of beneficiaries from EGF and its partners to 60,009 secondary scholarships to date. The Wings to Fly program boasts a remarkable track record with an average secondary school completion rate of 97% since inception with 82% of graduating students achieving university entry grades, demonstrating the program’s commitment to academic excellence.
The Wings to Fly program was established by Equity Group Foundation in partnership with Mastercard Foundation with support from the German Government through KfW, USAID, UKAID, alongside other partners including individual benefactors. The program provides comprehensive secondary school scholarships to academically gifted yet economically disadvantaged and vulnerable students from all over Kenya.
In addition to the scholarships, the beneficiaries also receive revision books, school uniforms, transportation to their respective schools, pocket money and scheduled mentorship and leadership training sessions. This holistic approach ensures that the scholars are well-equipped for academic success and develop into well-rounded individuals.
The event was commissioned by Elijah Mungai, Director of Projects Coordination, State Department of Basic Education who represented Education Cabinet Secretary Hon. Ezekiel Machogu. “This initiative is proof that well-structured public – private partnerships can make significant contribution to Kenya’s social and economic agenda,” Mr. Mungai said.
“I call upon other corporates of goodwill to step up to the challenge of helping the country address its socio-economic limitations and bring us closer to achieving the ideals crafted under vision 2030.”
Addressing the new cohort of scholars, EGF Executive Chairman Dr. James Mwangi observed: “This scholarship is not just a ticket to academic excellence but a gateway to your dreams. This program is about giving you an opportunity to change your circumstances. The comprehensive scholarship will take care of all that you will need to succeed in the next four years of your secondary school education.”
On his part, H.E. Hon. Johnson Sakaja, Governor of Nairobi County noted the program has transformed lives of many needy students. “This program has transformed the lives and prospects of thousands of young Kenyans from across the country. The scholars being commissioned today have shown that they can make use of the talents they received. They have seen wonderful examples from scholars who went before them, and it is now up to them to ensure that their future is not determined by their backgrounds” he said.
“I would like to appreciate the vision and diligence of Equity Bank in creating a scholarship program that targets bright children from financially challenging backgrounds. This vision to take scholars from across the country and support them through education is transformative,” Hon Sakaja added.
Mr. Oskar von Maltzan, the KfW Development Bank Country Director acknowledged the impact of Wings to Fly program stating: “We are proud to be associated with this program. It is great to see the successes that have come over the years,” adding that, “KfW has financed about 5,000 Wings to Fly scholarships for secondary schools and vocational training to a tune of Ksh 4 billion of grant funds from Germany Government.”
The selection process for the Wings to Fly scholarships is both rigorous and transparent, involving community-based verification and monitoring. Members of the community scholarship selection boards (CSSBs) across the country diligently review applications, conduct face-to-face interviews,and make home visits. This thorough process ensures that scholarships are awarded to the most deserving scholars thereby maintaining the integrity and effectiveness of the program.
The Wings to Fly scholarship program offers top performers a pathway into the prestigious Equity Leaders Program (ELP). Upon completing high school, these scholars transition into the ELP. Since its inception, the program has facilitated 18,735 scholars’ entry into university, with 8,337 benefiting from paid internships at Equity Bank.
Additionally, 3,454 have enrolled in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges. A notable 890 ELP scholars have secured fully funded scholarships at 201 leading global universities across 36 countries including Ivy League institutions such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, and Cornell Universities in the USA.
Equity Leaders Program is designed to empower academically gifted scholars by facilitating their access to education in public universities both locally and globally while also nurturing their leadership skills. ELP Scholars who pursued medicine and gained the necessary experience have been supported by EGF to establish Equity Afia Medical centers expanding access to affordable and quality healthcare. To date, Equity Afia has successfully launched 102 facilities nationwide and is rolling the franchise in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
To further promote enterprise and provide solutions to various socio-economic challenges facing the continent, EGF has also created a network for ELP alumni in the enterprise and innovations space and has been supporting them to set-up and grow their businesses. For instance, Eliud Njogu, an ELP alumnus from the class of 2001 founded E&M Technology.
E&M Technology is a software development company that innovates for the financial industry. Eliud’s drive to innovate, start a business and provide employment opportunities is evidence of how an opportunity in education is a chance to transform the country, the continent and the world for the better.
Paul Kimani, another ELP alumnus of 2007 leads Workpay a pan-African technology company that builds payroll management software for companies across the continent. These success stories reflect EGF’s commitment to fostering a new generation of African entrepreneurs and innovators, proving that investment in education is a powerful tool for continental and global betterment.