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Bursary delay hampers higher learning

09 September 2013, 17:30 Bob Ndwiga

Kilifi - More than 100 female university and college students in Kilifi County might lose their places at institutions of higher learning unless more than KES 2.5 million required for their bursaries is raised.

The students, who are mainly orphans and others from poor families, have been receiving assistance from the Kenya Association of Women in Tourism and Mwerya Women Association based in Malindi and Magarini districts.

Leaders of the organisations, however, said that delayed government bursaries and assistance from the stakeholders in the now poorly performing tourism industry had affected the funding of the education project.

More than 20 hotels in Malindi have temporarily been closed down in the wake of low bed occupancies in the last few months, something that has affected commerce and income in the region.

However, the leaders of the two organisations and hundreds of volunteers organised a walk over the weekend to raise the required funds.

girl child education

During the walk, the volunteers carried placards and sang songs in support of girl education in Kilifi County where hundreds of girls abandon school at primary and secondary school levels with little hope of accessing tertiary level educaion.

“We are determined to see the girls enjoying our bursaries continue with higher education and finally get qualification to work as professionals in this county where women still remain behind when it comes to accessing higher education and employment,” noted the Mwerya Women Group chairlady Gertrude Bahati.

Bahati said that at least 12 university students at the Pwani, Mt. Kenya and Mombasa Technical universities had fees arrears ranging from KES 70 000 -  400 000 and could face expulsion.

She said, “We are worried that these female students majority of who have completed their first and second years could face expulsion due to fees arrears unless urgent measures are taken to mobilise funds.”

Bahati added that stakeholders in Malindi were presently recording poor incomes from tourism, which is the pillar of Malindi’s economy yet they were the main supporters of the organisations’ bursary kitties.

She termed the fund raising walk as way of creating awareness on the need for stakeholders in Malindi to expand their support of girl child education.

Mwikali on her part said the organisations had decided to partner in order to promote access to higher education by girls and some boys, majority whom have been ignored for a long time.

She observed that had women competition for employment in various sectors of the economy remained low and compromised due to lack of university or college qualifications among the women folk.

She noted, “Lack of civic education and the sometimes discriminative local culture have led to marginalisation and non-empowerment of women leading to poverty and poor general academic standards.”

Negative attitude towards education for the girl child, Mwikali added, had left the community with very few trained women professionals hence leaving men to dominate nearly all key employment openings meant for women.

“It is unfortunate that hundreds of bright but  needy girls completing Secondary education with good grades were being  forced to abandon education due to lack of finance and the negative attitude towards education by both parents and the community,” said Mwikali.

Mwikali, who is a Swiss trained Hotelier and owner of a middle level  tourism college in Malindi, said that one of the greatest challenges to improving the quality of  tourism and  destinations at the coast region was  harassment of tourists by beach operators.

She observed that had the youth in the Coast been empowered through higher education and professional training, harassment of tourists would be minimised and that would in turn contribute to increased bookings and bed occupancies.

She reaffirmed that KAWT was keen to work with the local community to find a lasting solution to the tourists harassment menace at the beaches and in the streets.

“We have started a partnership to first launch and promote various programmes which will ensure that the needy youth go through post secondary education to finally seek gainful employment in the tourism and other sectors,” she noted.

She noted that empowering women and the Kilifi County community through enhanced education and participation in economic activities would lead to concerted efforts in eradicating poverty.

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