H.E. The Dep. Governor of Marsabit County, Solomon Gubo Riwe,Hon Members of Parliament;The CEC Member for Education, Skills Development, Youth and Sport Hon Umuro Roba; All CEC Members and Chief Officers here present;Hon MCAs present here today;Directors of Education and Staff of Marsabit County Government;Parents, teachers and pupils and students from various schools,

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen;

It’s my great pleasure to join you today for yet another important eventfor us in Marsabit – an event geared towards enhancing equitable access to education for all.I would like to extend my warmest welcome, both personally and on behalf of the Marsabit County Government, to you all, and especially to the
teachers, education officers and parents who have travelled with their children from different parts of the County to be with us today.A big thank to the Principal and the teachers of Moi Girls for being such a gracious host to us today as they have always done

Ladies and Gentlemen:

We live in a world characterized by unimaginable inequalities and disparities of all forms. Great gaps continue to exist between the rich and the downtrodden, and between those with power and privilege and those without.But whatever the levels of inequalities there could be in a society, there still remains one great equalizer – Education.In his autobiography – Long Walk to Freedom, the late South African President Nelson Mandela told us that education is the great engine of
personal development. It is ONLY through education that the daughter of a rural livestock herder can become a Veterinary Doctor; that the son of a hospital sweeper can become the Medical Superintendent of the hospital, that a child of Mama Mboga and a Boda Boda rider can become an Engineer.

This is to say that no matter where you come from, no matter the socio-economic status of your parents, a school certificate is truly a passport to a future of possibilities.

HOWEVER, for education system to provide us and our next generation with multiple and meaningful pathways to succeed, it must be
DEFINED and DRIVEN by FOUR fundamental characteristics.FIRSTLY, education should be of high QUALITY and RELEVANT to our developmental needs. BUT a high quality and relevance characteristics are not enough in themselves.

To make education meet the criterion of a great equalizer in this unequal world,opportunities to pursue education should be and must be EQUITABLY and fairly ACCESSIBLE to all children irrespective of gender, ethnicity, political affiliation or social status of their parents.Fellow County Men and Women:It is really disheartening to admit that, whereas, Kenya has over the years vigorously endeavoured to expand equitable access to quality and relevant education, the achievement of the same has remained most
elusive at all levels in all parts of Marsabit.It is equally very sad that, whilst the Net Enrolment Rate in our primary schools stands at about 70%, majority of Marsabit children who complete primary education do not transit to secondary school, because of challenges mainly related to financial difficulties.

This is why the secondary school enrolment rate in our County is a meagre 9%, depicting a very low transition from Primary to Secondary.
Things get worse when we talk of post-secondary education as only about 1% of Marsabit population is currently enrolled in the Tertiary and University programmes.

I am certain that you will all agree with me that this situation must not be allowed to continue. It is imperative that our day-to-day planning,
implementation and our assessment of education activities, and in fact all our discussions and deliberations relating to education service delivery should be geared towards reversing the current state of affairs
in our County.

Of all the fundamental characteristics of education systems, I am personally and passionately concerned with that of EQUITABLE ACCESS to opportunities for education, because I share the belief that
access to education should never depend on the location of our village or the social status of our parents or guardians.

Many parents in our County do not have the resources to cater for their children’s education. In fact almost all the students who were able to attain secondary level education and beyond, did so with the support they received from relatives, neighbours and sometimes even strangers.

They were able to shape their destiny and realize their dreams – All because they were given the opportunity to get a good education.
I am quite sure that every one of you here can mention a child or more from your own village who have shown the capacity and resilience to fly past obstacles and managed to become epitome of success in their respective areas of profession and practice. Just like me, all they needed was the right support at the right time.That is why, on 24th of March last year, standing in Sololo, I made a promise to you – that your Government will help bright students from needy families in Marsabit to access opportunities to shape their destiny—and realize their dreams.After all, it is because of similar opportunities and the support from you
all that I am now running a government of the people of Marsabit, by the people of Marsabit which must work for all the people of Marsabit.

Distinguished Guests; Parents and Teachers:
The Marsabit Young Scholars Fund for Equity in Education (MY FEE) –a new component of the Marsabit Scholarship Fund, which I am launching today, has therefore been established to support young needy scholars
from across Marsabit to attend and remain in school and have equal chances as others to reach their God-given potential.

In this regard, I will shortly be issuing cheques to the first cohort of 193 beneficiaries of MY FEE programme covering all their Form One fees as contained in their respective admission letters.Whilst I applaud all the 2018 K.C.P.E candidates for the efforts they made in the examinations, I want to particularly commend those who posted sterling performances and are able to meet the cut points for access to County Scholarship. I take this opportunity to especially congratulate the 193 young people who have successfully gone through the selection process.It must be truly an honour for you to be the first recipients of the Marsabit Young Scholars Fund for Equity in Education Programme.

You now have the chance to step higher into new realms of possibilities through education.But you need to understand that receiving a scholarship is also a huge responsibility – a responsibility towards your own self and your community,and to prove that the low transition rates from Pry to Sec.School are important challenges that need to be addressed. You will be role models to others who will follow you, and you need to prove that investing in you was not a misplaced priority.

Let me alert you early enough that County Department of Education,together with your guardian, will continuously monitor all aspects your progress through your respective schools and will take all necessary measures to keep you on track.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The idea that we have behind this programme is not just the provision of one-time support for these students just this year. All the 193
beneficiaries will continue to receive full scholarship for the next four years of their secondary education, and depending on their performance they will be eligible to receive further support to pursue post-secondary
education.Moreover, from this year onwards, the same number or more students joining Form One will benefit from similar support every year.Allow me to remind us that this scholarship is an addition to other new interventions initiated by your government to improve education and 12 training. This includes the provision of free Technical Vocational Education and Training in all public training centres.

Distinguished guests, parents and teachers:
There is no doubt that we have a lot to do to expand access to education and training opportunities to all children and Marsabit youth to equip every one of them with the knowledge, attitudes and competencies they
need to lead fulfilling and productive lives. The challenges we face across our education system are enormous, but they can be overcome if we agree to rise up together and move in the same direction. Our resolve
to act together, here and now, that we don’t just talk the talk but we agree to walk the walk, can be a great driver of change.

The step we are taking today, plus other ongoing initiatives, are proof positive that we can work together to start opening more doors. Taken together, these initiatives are clear reaffirmations of our understanding
of the socio-economic inequalities prevalent in our society, our belief in the power of education, and our commitment to create opportunity for all.

On this note, I want to request our development partners, local and international NGOs and all stakeholders in education to join us in the effort to expand equitable access to education for all – an effort to make a difference in access to higher education for many; And a difference in the lives of many students, their families and many generations to come.

It is my singular pleasure to now officially to officially launch the Marsabit Yong Scholars Fund for Equity in Education on this 4th day of January, 2019.

May this launch open a world of opportunity for all that this fund is set a side to serve.

Thank you and may God bless you all.

H.E Hon. Mohamud Mohammed Ali

Marsabit county