Naveen Jain, an entrepreneur and philanthropist is quoted to have said that success is not how much money one has in their bank account but rather how many lives one has touched. Although the Kenyan Government has put in place measures to ensure that all students transition to secondary schools, this is yet to be achieved because there are a number of obstacles that stand in the way of attaining the 100% transition rate.
From a learners’ perspective, poverty remains the number one hindrance. Many bright but needy students weather the storms of life to excel in their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination. Nevertheless, they almost lose hope once they receive their admission letters because they know their parents or guardians can simply not afford to take them to secondary school.
In 2010, Equity Group Foundation (EGF) admitted its first cohort of beneficiaries for the comprehensive Wings to fly scholarship programme. What started out as an initiative to benefit 172 scholars has since scaled up to benefit a total of 37,009 Wings to Fly& Elimu Scholarship scholars.
In fact, just this year alone, 10,705 academically promising students from humble backgrounds who sat for the 2020 KCPE examination were officially commissioned to join the Wings to Fly& Elimu Scholarship programmes as part of the 12th and 2nd class respectively.
The uniqueness of the scholarship programmes
The scholarship programmes can be considered one of a kind from many fronts. For instance, they are awarded through the local communities. This is done through selection boards comprising about eleven to thirteen members who conduct rigorous panel interviews and home visits to verify the applications and status of the scholars. The local Community Scholarship Selection Boards (CSSBs) and the Community Scholarship Advisory Board (CSAC) work closely with Equity branch champions to identify the most deserving beneficiaries for the Wings to Fly and Elimu Scholarship respectively.
Secondly, the two programmes can be said to offer comprehensive scholarships which not only cover tuition but also books, uniform, transport costs and pocket money for the four-year period the scholars are in school. The scholars also receive mentorship, leadership development coaching and psychosocial and mental wellness support enabling them to be all rounded and disciplined individuals capable of making the right decisions and taking leadership positions in their schools and communities.
Additionally, the two scholarship programmes go beyond supporting scholars with just their education needs. For instance, during the school closure last year, EGF with financial support from Mastercard Foundation facilitated all 13,790 Wings to Flyand Elimu scholarship beneficiaries with a solar powered radio that has a lamp and a phone charging port enabling them to tune in to the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) radio broadcast lessons and keep pace with their academics.
The scholars and an additional 817 students drawn from EGF’s TVET cohort also benefited from a monthly stipend of Kshs. 4,000 for girls and Kshs. 3,500 for boys to ensure they could afford the necessities and keep them out of societal vices. The facilitation totaled Kshs. 428,376,430 and was complemented with weekly mentorship sessions.
The success of EGF’s scholarship programmes can also be attributed to working closely with multifaceted partners and individuals whose common goal is to ensure that bright but needy scholars get an opportunity to better themselves and their communities. This year, the Wings toFly scholarships have been funded by Equity Group, Mastercard Foundation, the German Government through KfW and a generous individual; while the Elimu scholarships have been supported by the World Bank-funded Secondary Education Quality Improvement Project (SEQIP) and implemented by Equity Group. This is enough proof that when like-minded individuals work together, the community benefits in leaps and bounds.
Ministry of Education Chief Administrative Secretary Dr. Sara Ruto (left) and Equity Group Foundation Executive Chairman, Dr. James Mwangi (right) hand over a scholarship letter to Joan Wanjiku, an Elimu Scholarship beneficiary.
Equity Group Foundation Executive Chairman Dr. James Mwangi (centre) takes a selfie with Abdi Enny Yarrow (left) and Eric Molewa (right,) beneficiaries of the 2021 Elimu and Wings to Fly Scholarships.
H.E. Mutahi Kahiga, Nyeri County Governor (right) together with Gerald Warui, Equity Bank Kenya Managing Director (left) issue Miriam Wambui from Nyeri Central (centre) aWings to Fly scholarship award letter.
Equity Group Foundation Executive Chairman Dr. James Mwangi (left) hands over a scholarship award letter to Violet Awuor (centre), a Wings to Fly 2021 beneficiary in Kisumu County alongside Deputy Governor Kisumu County Dr. Mathews Awili (right).
Wings to Fly Scholarship beneficiaries from Nyamira County wave their flags as they were being commissioned.
Equity Group Foundation Executive Chairman Dr. James Mwangi (right) and Samburu West MP H.E NaisulaLesuuda (left) hand over a scholarship award letter to Samuel Lokorio (center), an Elimu scholarship scholar during the commissioning of 119 Wings to Fly and Elimu Scholarship beneficiaries in Maralal, Samburu County.
Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Education Prof. George Magoha (right) presents a scholarship award letter to Elimu scholarship Abel Memusi (centre) from KajiadoCounty. Looking on is Equity Group Chief Commercial Officer Polycarp Igathe (left).
H.E Ali Bunow Korane, Garissa County Governor (centre) issues a Wings to Fly scholarship letter to Feiza Ahmed (left). 216 scholars from Garissa County were officially commissioned to join the 12thWings to Fly and 2nd Elimu Scholarship classes.
Mombasa County Deputy Governor H.E William Kingi (left) and Equity Bank General Manager Hellen Njiru (right) hand over an Elimu scholarship award letter to 2021 beneficiary Mine Mohammed (centre). 494 scholars from Mombasa Countywere awarded the 2021 Wings to Fly and Elimu scholarships.
Nandi County Governor Stephen Sang (2nd L) & Equity Group Foundation Executive Chairman Dr. James Mwangi (R) issue Mary Jeptum, a 2021 Wings to Fly scholar with a scholarship letter. Looking on is Tindiret MP Julius Melly (L).