Award-winning Kenyan singer and entrepreneur Esther Akoth, alias Akothee, has granted MKU student Milly Nafula Sh50,000 towards her upkeep.
Akothee handed over the cheque on the sidelines of a breakfast forum on education scholarships and funding, which was hosted by MKU Foundation at a Nairobi hotel on Wednesday, November 29, 2023.
Nafula, who is a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) student at MKU School of Medicine was granted a full scholarship by the Foundation in 2022.
She had stayed out of school for 14 years despite scoring an A- (minus) grade in her Kenya Certificate of Secondary school examination. When her story was broadcast on Citizen TV prime time news, it triggered national conversation on equitable access to quality higher education.
Driven by despair, Milly was working at a poshomill, her dream of becoming a medical doctor dissipating with each passing day. She had lost her mother, the sole breadwinner, and had been left to fend for her siblings.
MKU Foundation, through its patron Prof. Simon Gicharu responded to her cry and awarded her a full scholarship valued at Sh3.5 million. She joined MKU Medical School at Thika Main Campus in September, 2022.
“I wish to thank Akothee for the donation and as I have promised all my other donors, I will not let you down,” said Milly.
“I will work hard and ensure I attain my dream of being a medical doctor.”
While handing over the cheque, Akothee said: “My aim is to complement any efforts that are geared towards educating our bright students and according them a bright future. Milly is a poster child of what determination is bound to achieve. In a sense, she also represents the challenges that exist in our education systems.”
Akothee is the founder of Akothee Foundation. The Foundation has a bursary fund, rescue centre, feeding program, and a women empowerment program. She is also an MKU alumnus, having started Human Resource Management at undergraduate level.
The Breakfast Forum was hosted by MKU Foundation in partnership with NGOs Coordination Board. It involved the who-is-who in education funding and scholarship including Higher Education Loans Board, Universities Fund, Equity Bank Foundation, Kenya Private Sector Alliance, Elimisha Trust, Affecto Foundation, I &M Bank Foundation, Hope Worldwide, Plan International and Amara Trust.
“This is a first in a series of many such Forums we intend to hold in future as we pursue a unified, unequivocal voice on our contribution towards enhancing access to education in Kenya,” said MKU Foundation Executive Director John W. Koigi.
“We are also exploring the possibility of establishing a joint scholarship fund.”
The foundation has been working with bright students who are unable to raise fees to fund their higher education. Among them include Nafula.
As for Moses Thuo, when he sat for his final year secondary school exam, he qualified to join university but due to lack of fees, he resorted working as a welder, which he had learnt as an apprentice, for sustenance. The MKU Foundation awarded him a partial scholarship whereby he worked at the institution as he studied until he eventually graduated.
Koigi noted that these are two of the hundreds of cases where the Foundation has pitched in and enabled young Kenyans achieve their dreams.
“Our work as Mount Kenya University Foundation neatly dovetails with the educational sponsorship and funding programmes within your organizations. We are inspired by a common mantra which boldly states that: No Adequate Funding; No Education; No future,” said Koigi
“Where there is no Adequate Funding, then there cannot be Education. And without Education, there can be no Future… building an equitable and sustainable future for our country needs a well-funded education system that leaves no child behind.”
Speaking at the breakfast forum, Geofrey Monari chief executive Universities Fund noted that it is critical for Kenya to increase the number of people who are getting university education. He noted that while higher education training across the different institutions including the technical and vocational training institutions was key, enrolment into universities in Kenya is still low.
"Last year, there were 173,000 students with C+ and above and qualified to join universities. This was only 19 per cent of the students who sat for KCSE. This is very low. If you look at neighbouring countries, such as Tanzania and Uganda, the percentage is about 30 to 35 percent. When you go to Asia, the number of students who transition to university is 60 to 65 percent," he said.
"If we (Kenya) can get to 25 – 30 per cent this year, then i believe we will be headed in the right direction. You would rather have people who have gone to school... It is not the point of any nation to have so many students left out of the education system."
“Do not be swayed by social media when you see people complaining that so many students have passed their KCSE… at 19 per cent with C+ and above, this is not a high number.”