The administration of secondary school bursary through constituency development fund (CDF)
Kamau, John Njogu
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The secondary school bursary scheme is an initiative of the government aimed at helping students from poor backgrounds to obtain education. The scheme is also aimed at ensuring that students are retained in school after enrollment. Many students from poor families drop out of school even when they had performed exemplary well in the primary level. Poverty and lack of resources in many family settings has lead to low enrollment, retention, and completion at every level of education. This in turn compromises the government's effort to attain socio-economic development of the country. During the last ] 5 years, HIV 1AIDS pandemic has caused many children to drop out of school because their parents are too sick to provide for their education. There has been household impoverishment due to death or disability of parents (GOK/UNICEF ] 999). High cost of education, gender discrimination and poverty have been other factors. In order to address some of the above problems, the Government introduced grants in primary schools and bursaries in secondary schools (Karani et al, 1995). Until 2002, the bursary funds were disbursed directly to secondary schools from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology headquarters. At the school level, the Board of Governors (BoGs) with the help of teachers identified needy students to benefit from the funds. One major shortcoming of direct disbursement is that only those students already in school were targeted. Some student applicants whom proper background information lacked were not allocated any funds. Indeed some students may have benefited from the funds without necessarily having been qualified. There is glaring lack of institutional checks and balances on the funds management at constituency level. Moreover the government had no proper machinery on the ground to monitor how the funds were being disbursed. With the change in the disbursement policy in the 2003/2004 Financial Year, bursary funds are now being channeled through the constituencies. This is an example of decentralization of service by the government with an aim of improving efficiency. With proper management, the administration of this new mode of funds disbursement should go along way in assisting the poor to realize their dream of acquiring education.