Students Challenged To Embrace Education

At Least ten secondary schools in Laikipia and some parts of Nyeri County have participated in an inter schools quiz competition aimed at challenging their creativity and enhancing team cohesion among learners.

The interschools competition which was organized by British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK) in Nanyuki dubbed MasterMinds Interschools competition saw St. Jude Girls emerge the overall winner.

The best student walked away with a laptop and the participating students got certificates and stationeries.

Speaking to the media, BATUK Commander in charge of Laikipia training unit Colonel Duncan Mann said that they had spent over Sh50 million in holding annual quiz competitions and improving schools’ infrastructures in the region.

‘We are here to support education because community engagement is very important for us. This competition will encourage students to have passion for learning and become responsible citizens in the future,’ said Col Mann.

Helena Kangai, a teacher at St Jude girls secondary school in Nanyuki said that they had prepared enough which contributed to their win in the inter school competitions.

She said that the competition gave a chance to the students to interact with other learners from other schools.

Gwen Wangari, a student at St Jude girl thanked her teachers for the opportunity to participate in the competition and for helping her emerge the winner.

She noted that they did not win in last year’s quiz competition, but that didn’t stop them from trying for a second time.

Irene Wambui, a student from the same school, said she was lucky to get a laptop after participating in the competition.

She added that she engaged her teachers a lot ahead of the competition which played a major role in her win.

Among the schools that took part are Sweet waters secondary school, Likii mixed secondary school, Narumoro mixed, Thingithu secondary, Bishop Gatimu Ngandu secondary school, Kalalu girls and Nanyuki township secondary school.

Source: Kenya News Agency

PS Says New Universities, TVETs Funding Model Student Centered

State Department for Basic Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang has said that the new funding model for universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions was student-centered, predictable and will encourage the institutions to seek other revenue streams.

Dr Kipsang indicated that the funding model for higher education will see needy households get more support than those from well-off backgrounds.

The Principal Secretary said the new funding regime had been crafted to ‘cure’ the uniform and an inequitable capitation witnessed under the differentiated unit cost (DUC) model, where the rich and the poor student receive the same amount.

Unlike what has been the case, universities and TVETs will no longer receive block funding in the form of capitation based on the DUC whose sustainability has been a struggle following dipping in funding ratios from the government. Instead the government has resolved that university funding will be apportioned to individual students according to their level of need.

Addressing students and staff at Egerton University’s Njoro Main Campus after a tree planting exercise Dr Kipsang explained that the new funding framework seeks to offer students whose households are at the bottom of the pyramid equal opportunity in accessing university education and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).

Under the new funding model, the government will fully fund the vulnerable and extremely needy students joining universities and TVETs this year.

The funding for these students will be through scholarships, loans and bursaries.

To facilitate the implementation of the new framework, Dr Belio disclosed that the State has increased funding for university education to Sh84.6 billion from Sh54 billion allocated in the financial year starting July as loans and grants.

This translates to an allocation increase per student from Sh152,000 to Sh208,000. The budgetary allocation for TVETs will in the coming financial year increase from Sh5.2 billion to Sh10 billion, translating to Sh67,000 per year per trainee.

On May 3rd President William Ruto announced the new funding model and clarified that it will not raise the fees for the students.

The announcement opens the doors for the process of admitting the 2022 KCSE candidates whose fate has been in limbo awaiting the resolution of the funding model.

‘Students will be categorized according to four levels of need; vulnerable, extremely needy, needy and less needy. All students shall be supported adequately to meet the cost of the programme they choose to pursue. No student will ever be left behind,’ Dr Ruto said.

About 92,350 students (29 per cent) who will join universities and TVET institutions this year have been identified as vulnerable and extremely needy and will receive full government support in terms of scholarships, loans and bursaries.

‘Students whose households are at the bottom of the pyramid shall enjoy equal opportunity in accessing university and TVET education. Their households shall not make any contribution towards the education of their children,’ the President said.

‘The new model of funding higher education, to be implemented effective this academic year 2023/2024, will commence with the new cohort of 173,127 students joining universities and 145,325 joining TVETs. All continuing government-sponsored students shall be supported in line with the previous existing funding model,’ Dr Ruto said.

Dr Ruto said that students who opt to study in private universities will qualify for Helb loans but will not be eligible for the scholarships.

The new funding framework according to Dr Kipsang will be based on four criteria, choice of the programme, household income band, affirmative performance and government priority areas.

Means Testing Instrument (MTI) will be applied to scientifically determine the need levels of students. The instrument has eight variables, which have been used over the years and have been strengthened and linked to other databases to boost reliability.

Dr Kipsang explained that the eight variables include parents’ background, gender, course type, marginalization, disability as well as family size and composition.

‘By combining these variables, it is envisaged that the State will be able to determine the needs of the various households and fund them appropriately. Based on MIT, students from rich backgrounds will get more loans than scholarships while the less able will get more scholarships than loans,’ added the Principal Secretary

Universities will be required to declare and publicize the actual cost of their programmes on the websites and share with Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) before every placement cycle.

Now, students from needy households joining universities will receive government scholarships (grants) of up to a maximum of 53 per cent and Helb loans of up to 40 per cent with the households paying the remaining seven per cent of the cost of a course.

The cheapest course is a Bachelor of Arts degree (Sh144,000). This means that the government will pay a maximum of Sh76,320 while students will get a Sh57,600 loan from Helb. The household will pay the remaining Sh10,080 per year.

For the most expensive programme, Bachelor of Dentistry at Sh720,000, the government will pay a maximum of Sh381,600, with the students getting a loan of Sh288,000 while the family pays the remaining Sh50,400 per year.

Students joining TVET institutions will receive government scholarships up to a maximum of 50 per cent and 30 per cent in loans while households will pay 20 per cent of the costs.

Source: Kenya News Agency

Inmate Freed On Compassionate Grounds

A 54-year-old inmate serving a three-year sentence at the Kericho GK Medium Prison for the offence of destruction of cultivated crops, has been freed on medical grounds.

While releasing Isaiah Tuwei Ngetich, who was diagnosed with stage four throat cancer in January this year, Kericho High Court Judge, Justice Joseph Sergon, said there were no compelling reasons for the prison facility to continue holding him.

Justice Sergon was speaking, Thursday, during a Kericho Court User’s Committee member’s visit to the prison facility.

The Officer In-Charge of the prison Senior Superintendent of Prisons (SSP), Labantine Makoyamo, said the prisoner was brought to the jail upon his conviction on March 3, 2022, and had so far served 14 months into his sentence.

Makomayo said the prison facility filed an application to the Kericho Law Court to have him freed on medical grounds upon noticing that he was experiencing a lot of pain when swallowing food late last year, and they took him to the Kericho County Referral Hospital, where he was diagnosed with the life-threatening ailment.

‘When he came to the prison, he was not sick, but he later developed pain while swallowing food, thus prompting prison authorities to immediately take him to the referral hospital for diagnosis and treatment,’ he said.

In an interview with KNA, shortly after he was released at the Prison’s Welfare Office, Ngetich expressed joy that he will now be with his family members as he undergoes treatment from his home in Soin/Sigowet Sub-county.

The distraught father of two said he was diagnosed with advanced cancer of the throat on January 8, 2023, after he started experiencing pain while swallowing food.

He further said he had developed a swelling on the right side of the neck and another one on the left side of his forehead, besides experiencing difficulty while talking, but was hopeful that God would heal him.

‘I thank God that I am finally going back home to be with my family after staying in jail for one year and two months. My brothers have been visiting me, and I cannot wait to be reunited with them,’ said Ngetich.

Source: Kenya News Agency

Huduma Center Kirinyaga Marks 7 Years Of Service Delivery

Thousands of residents from Kirinyaga County have benefited from Huduma Kenya services that brought government services closer to the people in a single stop environment.

The Huduma Center Kirinyaga marked their seventh year since inception in a celebration held in their premises.

Speaking during the event Center Manager Rhoda Mwanzia said the facility currently serves almost 500 customers per day up from 150 when it opened its doors.

She acknowledged that the office of county commissioner has been helpful especially when conducting Huduma Mashinani sensitisation where they move to specific identified points to offer services.

The center with over 65 staff offers 15 different national and county government services and is expected to almost triple its services due to digitization of more government services.

Ms Mwanzia further acknowledged the commitment of the staff to serve the customers to their satisfaction

‘We are happy as Kirinyaga to be part of the team marking 7 years. We have been offering quality services and getting much assistance from the office of County Commissioner through Deputy County Commissioners, Assistant County Commissioners and chiefs when we are doing Huduma Mashinani,’ she said.

‘We started with 15 staff but we have grown to 65 offering around 15 services for both levels of government’ Ms Mwanzia added.

Kirinyaga Central Deputy County Commissioner Daniel Ndege, who represented the County Commissioner, said the Huduma Center has enabled residents to access service and cut on the cost of transport citing his experience in the past where it would take 6 months to get an Identification Card only from the District Office which was far away.

He added he will fully support the Huduma Mashinani services by mobilizing Assistant County Commissioners and Chiefs to assist the staff during such events.

Ndege noted that the biggest challenge was those who apply for the Identification Cards and fail to collect them.

‘The biggest challenge is those applying for IDs and they don’t pick. At one point the center had over 5000 IDs but after we launched a Rapid Results Initiative for track and tracing the owners using the chiefs, currently we have around 600. We will join hands with MCAs to ensure that the owners get the document,’ Ndege said.

One of the Huduma services beneficiary Kevin Njeru said the Huduma has brought efficiency and easy access to government services. He recalled going to Nyeri for NTSA services and Nairobi for Pension services which would take more than a week and then you may not complete the whole process.

The Huduma Centers countrywide will mark 10 years’ anniversary later this year since it was first launched in 2013.

Source: Kenya News Agency

Homa Bay Marginalised Areas To Receive Sh5 Million Equalisation Fund Yearly

Ten sub-locations in Homa Bay identified as marginalised are among others in the country that are set to benefit yearly from 0.5 per cent of the revenue collected nationally as Equalisation Fund for development in a bid to bring regions that are marginalised at par with the others nationally.

The ten which were identified by the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) through the 2019 population and housing census courtesy of the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, include Gwassi North (Malongo and Kitawa), Upper and Lower Kwamo, Kitiro in Ndhiwa sub-county and Kwandiko in Central Kanyamwa among others.

These regions are considered marginalised in five key parameters in terms of accessibility to water, public schools both secondary and primary, electricity, modern roads and public health.

The Director ICT at the CRA Joseph Kuria said lack of critical infrastructure is the reason for these regions to lag behind in terms of development as well as poverty levels.

The commission has completed its second marginalisation policy which drew its data from the 2009 population census and now it is in the process of developing the third.

‘We have visited two sub-locations, Kitiro in East Kwabwai and Malongo in Gwassi North to verify the data we have for us to come up with the third policy on marginalisation,’ Mr Kuria said.

The team looked at the issue of accessibility to water, electricity, the roads, health services and basic education to the people within the sub-location.

Malongo sub-location lacks connectivity in terms of electricity and has one dispensary whose proximity to the furthest homestead within the sub-location is about three to five kilometres.

It is marginalised in such a way that accessing services like water, health and education requires long hours of walking given that there are no roads nor transport system and accessing the services of boda boda operators is also a challenge.

Mr Kuria noted that the equalisation fund will be directed towards improving these infrastructures to better the lives of the people.

‘We are setting aside additional funds so that these areas are not marginalised. The fund should work in synergy with the county assembly and is meant to provide an intervention in those five key areas,’ he said.

The equalisation fund is established under article 204(1) of the constitution to facilitate the provision of basic services such as water, roads, electricity and health to marginalised areas and the commission is mandated to formulate policies for identifying these areas.

It is also mandated to regularly review marginalised areas for purposes of the Equalisation Fund which will be used to improve on the priority sectors in these regions.

The director said there is a need for active involvement of both the county and national governments to ensure marginalised areas enjoy similar services as other areas in the country.

‘We have talked about the issues that pain the community and what their priorities will be. They have prioritised water, followed by road, electricity, health and lastly education,’ he stated.

The director advised that the equalisation fund is little and therefore the community needs to form a project committee that will identify the most critical infrastructure to improve on before moving to another.

Source: Kenya News Agency

Narok Residents Ask Implementing Agencies To Engage Local Contractors

Narok residents have called on departments to engage local contractors when implementing projects supported by the National Government as they understand the terrain better than contractors from other counties.

The residents said this when they presented their views to a team from the Commission of Revenue Allocation (CRA) who toured the county to seek comments from the residents on the projects implemented in the first and second policy of the equalisation fund.

The CRA team led by their Chief Executive Officer (CEO) James Katule toured several projects implemented using the equitable fund and held focus groups with the local residents.

Pastor Moses Marima who spoke at Erusiai Primary School in Narok North Sub County said a water project and roads made in the area were not up to standard as the contractors were contracted from Nairobi and did not understand the challenges on the ground.

He called on the government to engage local contractors who will be available to be questioned by the residents’ years after the project is completed.

‘For instance, the borehole drilled at Olchoro Dispensary is unable to function because of a minor problem. If the contractor was known to the residents, he would be easily approached and asked to repair the broken part,’ he said.

Suswa residents led by their Member of County Assembly (MCA) Salaash Kisotu also echoed the sentiments saying two water projects that were allocated over Sh150 million to be constructed in the area were never done.

‘We want the local contractors who have the capacity to make such mega dams to be awarded the projects so that we can question them and make follow up easily in case the project is faulty,’ he said.

The Narok County Commissioner Isaac Masinde had highlighted the same issue when the CRA officials had visited his office saying most projects built by a contractor who was not well known by the residents were done in a shoddy manner.

He cited an example of classrooms and a laboratory being built at Emurua Dikir Constituency that he alleged were poorly done despite the contractor having been paid millions of shillings.

While noting their concerns, CEO Katule said all projects implemented by the equalization fund should be well labeled to differentiate them from other projects being implemented in the county.

89 sub locations in Narok that are deemed to be the most marginalized are set to benefit from the third policy equalization fund.

Source: Kenya News Agency

Diplomat José Agostinho Neto dies

Diplomat José Agostinho Neto, brother of Angola’s first president, died Saturday in Lisbon, Portugal, aged 85, due to illness.

In a note sent to ANGOP Sunday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MIREX), which announced the misfortune, expressed “deep sadness and high compassion” and expresses its heartfelt condolences to the family.

In the document, signed by the Angolan top diplomat Teté António, recalls that “Tio Loló”, as he was affectionately known, was Angola’s extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador to the Republics of Congo, Tanzania and Botswana.

A diligent member of the ruling MPLA party, the ambassador was also a BPC – Banco de Poupança e Crédito (Savings and Credit Bank) member and non-executive director of the António Agostinho Neto Foundation (FAAA), where he looked after the legacy of his older brother.

“On behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Department, the entire diplomatic class and other officials, I express my condolence to bereaved family”, Teté António’s message reads out.

Source: Angola Press News Agency (APNA)

Chicken Business Propel Maua Town’s Poultry Industry To New Heights

Maua Town, known for its thriving agricultural sector, has recently witnessed a remarkable surge in the chicks and chicken selling business. This surge has propelled the local poultry industry to unprecedented heights, transforming Maua into a hub of poultry commerce and resulting in economic growth.

The once humble enterprise of raising and selling chicks and chickens has now evolved into a highly competitive and lucrative industry. Poultry farmers in Maua have embraced advanced breeding techniques and effective marketing strategies to meet the escalating demand.

Local farmers, renowned for their commitment to quality and excellence, have become the driving force behind the success of the chick and chicken business. These dedicated individuals have honed their skills over generations, passing down time-honored knowledge that ensures the production of healthy and robust birds.

Speaking to KNA, Mr John Smith, a poultry farmer and business person in Maua town has established himself as a prominent figure in the town’s thriving chick and chicken selling business.

Smith, a poultry enthusiast, has developed an impressive reputation for his commitment to providing top-tier chicks and chickens to Maua Town and its neighboring communities. The attention to detail and exceptional care he dedicates to his birds have earned him a loyal following of customers who are impressed by the quality of his poultry.

He maintains that Maua’s strategic location has also played a vital role in the industry’s flourishing success. Situated in the heart of the region, the town enjoys excellent transport connectivity, facilitating the distribution of chicks and chickens to neighboring towns like Laare, Kangeta, Muthara and Karama.

‘The economic impact of this thriving industry cannot be underrated since business has become a significant contributor to Maua’s local economy, generating employment opportunities and fostering sustainable growth. Local residents have found new avenues of employment, whether it be in hatcheries, farms, or delivering services,’ says smith who has so far employed two individuals who deliver the chicken and eggs to various customers including hotels and schools.

He adds that a one-month-old improved Kienyeji and white broiler chick goes at Sh250 and Sh300 respectively while a fully grown chicken sells between Sh800 to Sh1200 for hens and Sh800 to Sh1500 for a rooster.

‘In a good day I make a profit of Sh4000 to Sh5000,’ says Smith adding that he is capable of educating his three children, paying rent and other bills through his business which he began five years ago with a mere Sh5000.

Moreover, Maua’s chick and chicken sellers have leveraged the power of digital platforms to expand their customer base and amplify their reach. With the advent of e-commerce, these business owners have embraced online marketing including WhatsApp and Facebook, allowing them to connect directly with customers across a wide range of market.

‘I am happy about the positive impact of social media, especially in the business sector. I am able to link-up with most of my consumers through WhatsApp and Facebook where they make their orders,’ adds Selina Nkatha who is also in the poultry business in Maua town.

Furthermore, the ripple effect of this booming business has positively impacted other business sectors in the town including suppliers of poultry feed, equipment like feeders, drinkers, egg crates, and veterinary services which have also experienced a surge in demand hence creating a vibrant ecosystem of interconnected businesses that thrive on the success of the chick and chicken industry.

Nkatha noted that the business has thrived amid challenges like high feed costs, disease outbreaks, and unaffordability of vaccines due to steadfast commitment to quality, innovation and customer satisfaction.

She urged residents to diversify from miraa business which has faced myriad of challenges including lack of international market and embrace poultry farming.

Nkatha however called upon the government to construct market shades to remedy losses incurred as a result of harsh weather conditions like strong winds, sunlight and heavy rains.

Source: Kenya News Agency

Residents Call For A Borderless EAC To Promote Trade

A section of residents from the North Eastern are now calling for a borderless East Africa Community (EAC) in order to promote trade between countries in the region.

Speaking during a public participation forum on the proposed political confederation of EAC held at a Garissa hotel Hassan Noor, a resident of Garissa, asked the committee to prioritise a borderless region that would ensure goods and services in the region move freely.

‘I want a free region so that I can move freely in the region. We should promote resource sharing so that cases of conflicts are minimised in the region,’ Noor said.

‘There is huge potential in the region for trade to thrive if we come up with a borderless region. This will also see a strong regional economic block that does not depend on aid from the East or western countries,’ he added.

Justice Dr Benjamin Odoki, retired Chief Justice of Uganda and the chairman to the committee of experts appointed at the EAC summit to draft the constitution for the proposed political confederation of EAC said the journey to strengthen the political authority is on course.

Dr Odoki said that much has been covered in the quest to come up with a draft of an EAC constitution.

‘We shall be visiting all the 47 counties collecting the people’s views that we shall use to draft the constitution,’ he said.

The retired chief justice said that his team of experts will come up with a draft confederal constitution that will lead to a transition to a federation.

On her part Ms. Fatuma Yusuf from Wajir urged the committee to ensure there is inclusivity in the regional governance system.

‘I want sign language to be included among the recognized languages in the EAC so that people living with disabilities can feel being part of the EAC population,’ Fatuma said.

Source: Kenya News Agency

1450 Digital Libraries To Spur Digital Job Opportunities, CS Owalo

Information, Communication and the Digital Economy Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo has said that 1,450 digital Libraries being set up will spur digital job opportunities across the country.

According to the CS each ward in the country will get one digital laboratory as part of the Government’s plan to put up a digital superhighway in conjunction with Technical, Industrial, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training Centres (TIVETs) or even at the village level.

‘The purpose of this is to ensure that each youth gets adequate digital skills and secure digital jobs sourced by the government from global technological companies since there are no longer white-collar jobs,’ said the CS.

Mr Owalo said there are a lot of opportunities in the digital space and that a lot of money can be made from the jobs and even business opportunities.

In addition to the Digital hubs, the CS said the government is establishing 25,000 free public wi-fi spots in its plan to ensure there is an affordable or free internet across the country.

‘The Wi fi hot spots will start in the markets where our mothers and sisters are domiciled by way of itinerary trade, we want to move away from traditional way of doing business by harnessing technology,’ added the CS.

The CS said that the government is also digitizing its services and has so far digitized 4200 service from 350 services accessed online three months ago even as it moves to replace the physical national identity cards with an electronic identification system.

‘We are also going to unveil cheap smart enabled phone in the next two months which will retail at 40 dollars, this will be a game changer in this country as we are enhancing connectivity, access and leveraging on technology to increase number of people earning a gainful income,’ elaborated the CS.

Awed by a young man who made a fortune from online platform after undergoing online jobs training, the CS encouraged youths to embrace the program so as to earn a living and support their parents.

‘The online jobs will propel one from a learner to an instant earner able to gain huge income from online job platform,’ CS encouraged the youths.

The CS made the remarks at the Eldama Ravine Technical and Vocational College during the launch of the Jitegemee digital library at the institution.

The ICT Principal Secretary Engineer John Tanui said there are many opportunities in different economic sectors that can be harnessed through the digital space.

He said the country has a huge population of the youth that is well trained and vibrant that the world is desiring to get their services through labour exchange.

‘There are plenty of opportunities across world with talent gaps, we have the talent and you have seen in the recent past the number of presidents that are visiting our country, one of the key discussions they have is labour exchange, how to access our young people to be able to work for those nations from home,’ divulged the PS.

He said digital connectivity will allow people to work remotely and that there are a lot of jobs that are now accepting people to work remotely.

Tanui added that Business Outsourcing is also a key sector where our youths can work from home and support top tier one companies in the world, earning a gainful income.

He said the government is targeting 94 TIVET centres where each can train 300 youths on online jobs and that this will create a potential income Sh1.6 billion annually to the economy.

The PS said they have companies that have a lot of jobs currently and are being linked with the 94 TIVETS.

‘If we fully utilise up to a million young people on online jobs the income they will get will surpass the diaspora remittance we get annually,’ said the PS.

On his part Baringo Governor Benjamin Cheboi thanked the president for the effort they are doing to put the youths to employment saying they will greatly reduce the pressure on the grass roots from youths demanding jobs from their offices.

He called on the CS to connect the public health facilities with internet so as to make the health services efficient.

Eldama Ravine Member of Parliament Musa Sirma called on the Ministry of Information to connect police stations with the internet saying they were still being run in an analogue manner.

He said his Constituency Development Fund committee will ensure they amend the CDF act so as to allocate money to the digital hubs so as to assure its sustainability going forward.

He pledged to supplement the Ministry’s efforts by putting up 11 more digital hubs across Eldama Ravine Constituency.

The launch was also attended by Trans Nzoia senator and chair of Senate ICT committee, Allan Chesang who encouraged the youths saying he made money through digital marketing.

Also present was Baringo County Member of Parliament Florence Jematia, ICT authority CEO Stanley Kamanguya and his KONZA Technpolis Counterpart John Paul Okwiri.

The digital hub which is domiciled at the college received 100 computers last December and has so far trained 80 youths who are benefitting by earning income from online platform.

The College Principal Eric Tanui called for improvement of internet stability and more online work platforms to engage the youths on training.

Source: Kenya News Agency