NGCDF must not be used to fund postgraduate students, experts say

private students
The National Association of Private Universities Secretary General Dr Vincent Gaitho. He says MPs have hijacked the purpose of the NGCDF as they use it as a platform to popularize themselves.

The National Government Constituency Development Fund (NGCDF) should be used to build infrastructure for basic education and not for funding education for postgraduate students in local and foreign universities.

This is according to Maliba Arnold Nyajayi, the Strategic Communication Advisor in the office of Secretary General of UDA.

“It’s unfair for someone studying for a Master’s degree to get NGCDF funding; it’s immoral,’’ he said in a weekly educational forum hosted by a local TV station.

He added that although NGCDF has done well in funding infrastructure in primary and secondary schools, more money should be allocated to this sector because it is not simply a bursary.

“NGCDF was a pilot project for the devolved government, but it is not a bursary because of the way it is structured.  Sometimes all students in a school get a flat rate of between Ksh500 and Ksh5, 000 each, which might not help all the needy students,” he said.

In the panel of experts was also Dr Vincent Gaitho, Secretary General of National Association of Private Universities, who observed that CDF is important to very many students across the country.

“Poverty in Kenya is on the rise due to global climate change, which is marginalizing more families aggravated by the depreciation of the Kenya shilling. Any money for education sector is welcome. Thousands of students benefit from CDF bursaries,” he said.

However, Dr Gaitho questioned the sincerity of MPs as they complain about delayed release of NGCDF funds.

“It’s a popularity platform for MPs where thousands of people are invited to the various forums where the cheques are issued,” he said.

Dr Gaitho, who is also the chairman of the University Council at Mount Kenya University (MKU), called on MPs to focus on investing NGCDF in specific development projects in their local areas.

Dr Gaitho recommended that a bill be introduced in Parliament to authorize bursary funds to become revolving funds.

“Those who benefit from bursaries should pay back. Let’s make it sustainable through a revolving fund since we are developing human capital that eventually should become useful to the country,” he added.

The experts agreed that though education gets the lion’s share of the national budget, most of it goes to paying salaries and other recurrent expenditure, leaving a deficit for infrastructure development.

Kiambu bursaries
A dummy cheque is presented to eager beneficiaries by a politician. The NGCDF has been abused to benefit even postgraduate students at the expense of poor children in basic learning. File photo

Congratulating teachers and parents for supporting the 2023 KCSE candidates, Dr Gaitho encouraged the students who did not qualify for university to seek vacancies in TIVET institutions.

He also called for change to allow a selected intake of students into universities for candidates who did not attain minimum university qualifications (C+ and above) but are gifted and have excelled in sports, drama and music, among other talents.

Dr Gaitho said the Kenyan economy has been shrinking, so students are seeking jobs below their qualifications because the economy is too thin.

He once again called for increased collaboration between universities and industries so as to close the gap between the skills of fresh college students and the skills being demanded by industry.

“Universities prepare students for international markets.  Those who have qualified for university but opt to attend TVET institutions should be encouraged,” he added.

The panelists agreed that there is still a missing link between local universities and job absorption, resulting in a brain drain abroad.

By James Wakahiu

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Education News - Newspaper Vol 281