The Wings to Fly Scholarship Program selection process has kicked off across the country, with bright children from financially challenged backgrounds who sat the 2022 KCPE exams and who attained 350 and above having an opportunity to be selected to attend interviews.
Thousands of primary school leavers from all over the country appeared before the Community Scholarship Selection Boards (CSSBs) accompanied by their parents or guardians.
The CSSBs consist of key personalities from the communities, and each is chaired by the Sub-County Director of Education. The Boards are coordinated by Equity Branch Managers.
At the border town of Busia in western Kenya, 526 applications were received. Out of these, 60 children were shortlisted to attend the interviews and have the chance to be selected for the 8 slots allotted to the Busia CSSB for admission to the Wings to Fly Program. Speaking to the candidates, parents and guardians before the commencement of the interviews, Busia County Commissioner for Education William Makori said the selection process by Equity was above board and confirmed that due process is followed by the CSSBs.
“Do not be persuaded by anyone purporting to have influence over the selection process. The process is free and fair and you should not pay anyone claiming to influence the outcome,” he said.
Samuel Losuwat, Lodwar Kenya Primary Schools Heads Association (KEPSHA) Chairman who sits on the Lodwar CSSB said, “Wings to Fly is such an exemplary program and we would like to see more students join and get sponsored in their high school education. I have seen a huge difference since I started serving on the committee. We have seen professionals emerge from this program, something the students would not have realized without Equity’s intervention,” he said.
In Changamwe Sub-County, 58 candidates were interviewed for the Wings to Fly scholarship. The Assistant County Commissioner and Chairperson of the board, Miriam Tilas, emphasized the transparency of the selection process and urged students to be truthful about their circumstances during the interview. “Lying will not benefit you and may disqualify you from receiving the scholarship. Remember, even if you are not selected for the scholarship, this should not be the end of your education journey. Keep working hard and pursuing your goals. Good luck to all applicants,” she said.
Speaking during the shortlisting exercise in Kerugoya, Kirinyaga East KEPSHA C hair James Mututa said Equity has given CSSB members the opportunity to witness learners being empowered by the program. “This program transforms the lives of young men and women and equips them with knowledge and the attitude for prosperity,” said Mututa.
The Imam at Makongeni Mosque in Kibera Sheikh Hamza Habib who sits on the Kibera CSSB said the area has greatly benefitted from the scholarship program. “Education is power and educating our young people is the key to resolving the economic challenges facing the residents of Kibera. We are grateful to Equity for opening the door of opportunity for our children by supporting them to get an education,” he said.
The Wings to Fly program is a partnership between Equity Group Foundation and Equity Bank with additional financial support from other partners notably KfW, Mastercard Foundation, USAID, UKAid, private institutions as well as individuals. Since 2010, the program has grown to offer a total of 20,009 scholarships.
The scholarship is a comprehensive secondary school scholarship program for academically gifted but financially challenged children from all counties in Kenya. The scholarship program is now in its 13th year.
With a 97% secondary school completion rate and 82% qualification for transition to university rate, the Wings to Fly Program has been very successful and transformational.
The scholarship selection process gives priority to full and partial orphans who have no relative or guardian or sponsor to provide for their secondary education, children whose parents are physically or mentally challenged, children whose parents are living with HIV/AIDS or other chronic debilitating illness, children from families affected by natural disasters such as flooding, drought, and famine or civil conflict, children who have suffered neglect and/or abandonment and children with parents living under extreme poverty.
The children who make it past the interviews will be visited by the CSSB members during the home verification process, after which the 2023 Wings to Fly cohort will be selected to attend a centralized induction and be commissioned prior to joining high school.