Refugees receive coveted Equity Bank, educational scholarship
“The three had the best grades among the applicants in Turkana West County and they did a commendable job. The challenges of limited resources and overcrowding in schools did not deter them.”
It is Thursday morning and cheering can be heard in the amphitheater at Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya. Three students from Kakuma refugee camp, Magok Kuch Jok and Thuch Ayii Magot, refugees from South Sudan, and Prisca Nikuze, from the Democratic Republic of Congo are among hundreds of other non-refugee students receiving an important secondary school education scholarship.
The scholarships are being handed out by the Equity Group and MasterCard Foundations, as part of an initiative called, ‘Wings to Fly’. The scholarship is awarded to top performing students in the national primary school exams.
“My dreams and hopes for the future will be achieved.”
14-year old Thuch who studied at Cush Primary School in Kakuma refugee camp is thrilled to be a recipient. He scored 413 out of 500 marks in the national primary school exams. Not only was he the top performing refugee student in Kakuma, he was also one of the top performers in Turkana County, where the refugee camp is situated. He is also among the less than 0.5 per cent that scored more than 400 marks out of the one million pupils that sat their primary exams in 2017 in Kenya.
Thuch says his performance was driven by hard work, and the determination not to have a bleak future, that he says continuously stares at people living in refugee camps. He says his head teacher encouraged him to work extra hard so that he could compete for the few scholarship opportunities for refugees.
“I was excited when I learnt that my application for the Equity Bank sponsored scholarship was successful. My dreams and hopes for the future will be achieved,” said an elated Thuch.
Magok Jok (South Sudanese), Prisca Nikuze (Congolese) and Thuch Magot (South Sudanese) pose for a photograph at Kenyatta University, Nairobi Kenya following their commissioning as the Wings to Fly class of 2018. They are the first refugees to be awarded the Wings to Fly Education Scholarship, an initiative of the Equity Group Foundation with support from MasterCard. UNHCR/Caroline Opile
Magok Jok, 18 year old from South Sudan was among the 3 refugees of the 1000 young people that congregated in Nairobi for award of the Wings to Fly scholarship. UNHCR/Caroline Opile
14 year old, Thuch Ayii Magot, poses with his letter of award of the Wings to Fly scholarship during the commissioning of scholars that took place on 4 January, 2018. He recieved the award on behalf of all the successful applicants from Turkana County, where Kakuma camp is situated. UNHCR/Caroline Opile
The eight(8) successful applicants for the Wings to Fly scholarship from Turkana West Sub-County where Kakuma camp is located, pose with members of the Community Scholarship Selection Board that vet applicants based on academic performance, social and economic vulnerability. 5 of the scholars are from the host community, as the scholarship only been a preserve of the Kenyan students. UNHCR/Caroline Opile
Prisca Nikuze, a bubbly 18 year old girl from DR Congo was one of the three (3) refugees that made history. She was also awarded the Wings to Fly scholarship that has been a preserve for Kenyan students for the last 6 years since 2011 when the program was launched by Equity Group Foundation. UNHCR/Caroline Opile
At the university 18 year old Prisca chats happily with Kenyan students that were also awarded the scholarship. Prisca says the scholarship will give her the wings she needs to fly. Her ultimate goal is to be a doctor or a journalist. Prisca studied at the Angelina Jolie Girls Primary School in Kakuma. She says she worked hard to perform during the primary school exams. She was the top performing girl in the school, scoring 389 out of 500 marks.
“I am happy that I will now go to secondary school. I will work hard to be a doctor or journalist so that when I go back to my country, Democratic Republic of Congo, I can help others.”
18 year old Magok from South Sudan is equally fortunate to have earned the scholarship. He says that he had to devise an early morning and late evening study plan to score 409 out of 500 marks. Magok says his mother has been his greatest inspiration as she encouraged him to work hard work in school, to change his fortunes. He says she’s particularly proud about him getting the Equity scholarship.
18 year old Magok Kuch Jok from South Sudan outside his home in Kakuma refugee camp. UNHCR/Samuel Otieno
“I feel overjoyed and grateful because of the great opportunity offered through the Wings to Fly scholarship. Equity Foundation has given life to my dreams. Without God, I would not have been successful.”
On his future aspirations, Magok says: “I want to be a doctor and support education of needy children like me.”
“I am happy that I will now got to secondary school.”
The Equity Bank Foundation Wings to Fly program gives scholarships to high-achieving but vulnerable children, such as refugees, orphans, the poor and those living in serious difficult circumstances.
2017 was the first time that refugees were selected as beneficiaries since the scholarship was launched in 2011. The successful candidates are guaranteed a four year full scholarship that takes care of their upkeep, school fees and facilitation to the annual leadership and mentorship program.
“I felt very happy when my headmaster called me and told me that I had scored 413 marks. I had no idea that I was the best student in Kakuma camp.” 14-year-old Magot Thuch Ayii, a refugee from South Sudan who lives in Kakuma. UNHCR/S.Otieno
Prisca Nikuze, 18 year old Congolese, best girl 2017 KCPE, 389 Marks, at her home in Kakuma 2. UNHCR/Samuel Otieno
“The challenges of limited resources and overcrowding in schools did not deter them.”
“Inclusion of refugees in the scholarship by Equity Bank is commendable, “says Martin Gitobu, the Equity Bank Manager, Kakuma. “The Wings to Fly scholarship will not only unify members of the Kenyan host community and refugees in Kakuma but will also bring together communities from different cultural backgrounds,” he adds.
The historical achievement gives hope to other refugees in Dadaab and urban centres of the possibility of being selected in the subsequent years.
“It’s not a mean fete to earn the scholarship,” says Mohamed Hure, UNHCR Assistant Education Officer in Kakuma. “The three had the best grades among the applicants in Turkana West County and they did a commendable job. The challenges of limited resources and overcrowding in schools did not deter them.” Hure adds.