Minister Calls For Partnerships In Education

Nairobi 21st August 2012 . . .The Minister for Education Mutula Kilonzo has lauded the Annual Education and Leadership Congress partners for putting together such an important forum for scholars to learn leadership and mentorship from global leaders, scholars, opinion leaders and captains of industry.
In a keynote address to scholars attending the 3rd Annual Education and Leadership Congress, the minister hailed Equity Bank Group, The MasterCard Foundation, USAID, and UKAid  for  providing scholarships to needy and bright students. “The programme is unique in that it provides opportunity for leadership development and mentorship to beneficiaries.

The minister said the youth are crucial in closing gaps in economic growth through active engagements in matters that touch on them. “Challenges facing the youth include lack of a conducive environment for investment and enterprise and a mismatch between education/training and labour market demands” he said.
Minister Kilonzo said the government has put in place measures to re-orient the education/training curricula to focus on opportunities for employment and enterprise creation. He said  serious campaigns such as enhancing leadership qualities must be developed among the youth to fuel innovative solutions. “Young people should venture into new types of jobs in the fields of information and communication technology,” he said.

The minister confirmed that draft Policies and Bills to address concerns in the education sector have been approved by cabinet  for debate by Parliament. They include The Basic Education Bill 2012; Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2012 and The Kenyan National Examination Council Bill 2012 among others.  The minister urged all stakeholders to  read the proposed Bills that are accessible on the ministry’s website. “Please read the documents and make them the subject of debate and enhance them with new ideas. The young people gathered here are today the champions of reform who will carry on the burning torch for this nation. I encourage you to reach for the sky, reach for the stars to be among the world's top scholars now that your financial constraints have been alleviated by your sponsors,” he told the nearly 5,000 scholars attending the congress.

Speaking at the congress the Head of UKAid (Kenya & Somalia) Alistair Fernie, said education is the most valuable  investment a government can make.  He urged the sector to focus on quality of education  saying Kenya’s 93% primary school enrollment is impressive by any standards. However he averred, “there is need to invest more in reducing class sizes; in making sure teachers have the right qualifications and that students have access to textbooks and other equipment."
Fernie paid tribute to Equity Bank Group and partners for the initiative to support needy students. “We need new partnerships to  deliver. That includes the private sector like Equity Bank and international donors,” he said.

The Chairman of Equity Bank Peter Munga urged the scholars to discover  their  purpose  and remain focused saying the world is full of opportunities. He told the Wings To Fly scholars, all of whom are from needy backgrounds, not to be intimidated even though they come from such backgrounds. “Poverty is not a disease and if it were, it is curable, ” he said.  
The 3rd Annual Educational and Leadership Congress is currently talking place at Kenyatta University and brings together Wings to Fly scholars, Scholars from the Equity Bank University Sponsorship and Leadership Program and alumni. The scholars are exposed to mentorship and motivational sessions by local and international speakers comprising of professionals, scholars, opinion leaders, captains of industry and leaders from different spheres of society.

This year, speakers have included The President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation, Reeta Roy, Prof Olive Mugenda, Vice Chancellor of Kenyatta University, Prof Margaret Kamar, Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology; Prof George Godia, PS ministry of Education; Dr Bitange Ndemo the  PS for Ministry of Information and Communications; the CEO of National Council for Science and Technology Prof Shaukat Abdul Razak; Dr. Dwaine Lee, Director of Education and Youth at USAID; Joseph Mucheru, the Regional Head for Google in Sub Sahara Africa; Nick Nesbitt, CEO of Kencall EPZ; Erick Hersman, Founder iHub; Paul Kukubo, the CEO Kenya ICT Board; David Auberk, Co-Founder of Sanergy; Prof. George Magoha, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Nairobi;  Dr. George Njenga Deputy Vice Chancellor, Strathmore University; Fred Swaniker, the Founder and CEO of the Africa Leadership Academy in South Africa; Kenneth Njiru of Uungwana Resource Institute. Also expected to speak will be HE Festus Mogae, Former President of Botswana and member of The MasterCard  Foundation Board.

About The Education and Leadership Congress

The August Education and Leadership Congress is the highlight of the leadership, mentoring and social transformation programs run by Equity Group Foundation (EGF) in partnership with the MasterCard Foundation and support from USAID and UKAID which seeks to develop the next generation of transformational leaders.
The congress brings together scholars drawn from both the Wings to Fly and the Equity University Sponsorship programs, and seeks to nurture leadership skills and create a global mindset in the scholars, by exposing them to mentoring opportunities from outstanding role models from the academia, the public service, entrepreneurship, non-profits, and influential captains of industry amongst others.

The 3rd Annual Education and Leadership Congress focusing on globalization is taking place from August 13th - 23rd August 2012 at the Kenyatta University. This year’s theme is Developing a Global Edge. Through plenary sessions, panel discussions, workshops and focus group discussions, the congress is exploring the implications of an increasingly globalized world, highlighting solutions to global challenges and ways through which emerging leaders can enhance their competitiveness within the global context.
Approximately 5,000 scholars who include Wings to Fly scholars and Equity Bank university sponsorship beneficiaries and alumni are attending the congress.

About The Wings To Fly Program

The MasterCard Foundation and Equity Group Foundation’s Wings To Fly Scholarship Program, with support from UKAID and USAID, is a groundbreaking Kshs 6 billion partnership that enables young people to access and complete secondary school and improve their prospects of accessing higher education. The program targets students transitioning from primary school to secondary school. This initiative provides comprehensive secondary school education and leadership training targeting 10,000 academically gifted yet economically disadvantaged young Kenyans.

The scholarships cover tuition, books, uniforms, boarding, transport and stipends for students who are academically gifted yet economically disadvantaged, enabling them to complete their secondary education. In addition to a focus on academic excellence and achievement, the program provides mentoring and leadership development to help students succeed in secondary school and beyond.  

About The Equity Bank University Sponsorship and Leadership Program

The Equity Bank University Sponsorship and Leadership Program is supported by Equity Bank Group through the Equity Group Foundation. The program benefits the top performing boy and girl in the high school leaving/university entrance exams in Kenya in every district where the bank operates.

The Bank rolled out this program in 1998 with the aim of empowering young academically gifted scholars by supporting their access to education in public universities in Kenya as well as equipping them with leadership skills. The idea being to develop a generation that will think globally be inspired to fight poverty in the African continent, embrace sustainable development, improve living standards and coexist peacefully as a people while being fully committed to giving back to society.

Since 1998 to date, over 1, 290 university students and alumni have gone through the program. Those who have joined employment hold great career promise in their various pursuits.  In cognizance that these are Kenya’s best scholars, and in recognition that the country is still in the process of developing quality teaching facilities at the higher level, the program has encouraged our scholars to also seek admission to some of the best universities in the world.  65 of the beneficiaries are currently pursuing education in these world leading universities among them Harvard, Yale, MIT and Seoul University.