90 percent of children in developed countries like Kenya do not attend school, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Article 53 (b) of the Kenyan Constitution 2010 guarantees every child access "to free and compulsory basic education."
However, despite this constitutional guarantee, the education completion rate of students with disabilities in Kenya remains low. According to Disability Inclusive Development Kenya Situational Analysis June 2020 update, children with disabilities are less likely to be in education or complete it than their non-disabled counterparts.
Towards bridging this gap, various organizations are now offering scholarships to students with disabilities as part of their corporate social investment. They include:
Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) Foundation
Launched in 2016, KPC’s Inuka Scholarship Programme offers 94 annual scholarship opportunities to needy students with disabilities. The program benefits two students per county - one boy and one girl- offering them an opportunity to pursue secondary school education.
According to the KPC Foundation, the scholarship program is an opportunity for the company to contribute to the national empowerment of PWDs in line with Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Goal strives to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”
The six-year-old program has so far benefited at least 470 students with disabilities. Besides school fees and basic needs, the program also offers the beneficiaries mentorship, leadership development, and psychosocial support.
Inuka Scholarships are available to needy students enrolled with the National Council for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD). Interested students can collect and submit application forms at the NCPWD county offices.
Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) Foundation
The KCB Foundation offers annual secondary school scholarships to students with visual, hearing, and physical disabilities. The scholarships are part of the bank's program targeting needy students who perform well in their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE).
Of the available scholarship slots, a number of them are designated for students with disabilities. The Foundation liaises with the Kenya Institute of Special Education (KISE), which designs and implements the proper scholarship management for students with disabilities. So far, KCB Foundation has awarded at least 120 scholarships to students with disabilities.
The Foundation enrolls students with disabilities for the scholarship through social development offices in the counties and special primary schools countrywide.
National Council for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD)
NCPWD runs a program that offers financial assistance to PWDs in the country to support their education. According to the Council, the financial support aims at improving PWD's "enrolment, retention, and completion of education cycle for the eventual engagement in decent and gainful employment."
The program provides 75 percent of the tuition fees for education at Primary, Secondary, Colleges, Vocational Training Schools, and University (undergraduate) levels. It expects the applicant to cater for the remaining 25 percent.
However, the Council's contribution may vary depending on the applicant's situation. For example, if the applicant is in formal employment, they will be required to meet 50 percent of the fees. On the other hand, the Council may cater for the 100 percent fees in exceptional circumstances, but the applicant has to prove extreme poverty.
To date, the program has benefitted at least 7,525 learners.
Krystle Kabare Graduate Scholarship
Launched in 2021, the Krystle Kabare Graduate scholarship is offered by the international consultancy firm Development Pathways in memory of their employee Krystle Kabare. Krystle, who was passionate about promoting the rights of PWDs, passed on in 2017 in a road accident.
The scholarship offers one opportunity annually to one student with a disability to pursue a Master's degree at the University of Nairobi. The prospective student must be willing to pursue studies in Public Health, Anthropology, Economics, Sociology, Social Statistics, or any other relevant field.
The prospective student must also be a Kenyan citizen living with a disability with at least an Upper Second-Class Honors Degree in their undergraduate studies. Further, the student must be fluent in written and spoken English.
ABSA Bank and Higher Education Loans Board (HELB)
Formerly known as Barclays Bank, ABSA Bank partners with the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) to offer partial scholarships to bright but needy students pursuing a university education.
The scholarship benefits 20 students annually for the total duration of the study. At least 4 percent of the beneficiaries are usually students with disabilities to promote inclusion. Further, to promote gender equality, the scholarship benefits an equal number of female and male students.
The scholarship worth 150,000 caters for accommodation fees, laptop purchases, and upkeep costs for the beneficiaries.
A prospective beneficiary must be government-sponsored.