Lamu, KENYA: The Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport corridor-LAPSSET Authority has flatly rejected a proposition by county leaders to have the remaining 600 youth in the presidential scholarship program enrolled at once.
The scholarship program was launched by former president Mwai Kibaki in 2012 where he pledged an affirmative action that would ensure 1000 youth from Lamu are sponsored and empowered through education and skills in port-related matters and thereafter have them secure jobs at the new port once it assumes operations.
The action was to also ensure Lamu as the host county stood to benefit from the project.
A total of 400 youth have been enrolled in the program for the last four years out of which 350 will have graduated from various institutions by end year.
According to the initial agreement, the students were to be enrolled in five tranches of 200 youth each year for five years.
However, due to numerous delays, only 400 have been recruited for the last four years.
Consequently, county leaders have urged the authority to enroll the remaining 600 all at once so as to avoid delaying the process even further.
However speaking at the port site in Kililana on Monday, the Lapsset Corridor Development Authority CEO Silvestre Kasuku said it was impossible to recruit all the 600 at once as requested due to logistical challenges.
Kasuku, however, stated that the next tranche of 200 will be recruited between January and March 2019.
He said the objective if the program is to also ensure youth from all cadres get to benefit from the program and not just those who are youth at the moment.
“We want those who are currently in primary and secondary schools to also get a taste of this rare opportunity. If we say we want to enroll all the 600 at once, that means we have locked out all those young one who are in primary and secondary schools. It will be selfish for us to just focus on those who are in their youth at the moment. There will be youth today, tomorrow and all the years to follow, each one must get an equal shot at the scholarship,” said Kasuku.
There have been claims that the scholarship program has been plagued with financial difficulties with some of the learners being forced to drop their course choices and end up with cheaper ones.
Kasuku, however, dismissed the claims as misleading and wrong adding that the government had devoted enough resources towards the implementation of the program.
The Lapsset Corporate Affairs Officer Benson Thuita said about Sh 120 million has been spent on the program since commencement in March 2014.
The national government also disbursed an additional Sh 11 million towards the program earlier in the year.
According to Thuita, the money is used for tuition fees and upkeep of the Lamu students in the various colleges and institutions around the country.
The LAPSSET Presidential Scholarship focuses mainly on training in port project components like Marine Engineering, Transport and Logistics, Nautical Engineering, Project Management, Port Management, and Surveying.
The program also provides training in auxiliary services and industries such as Human Resources, Medicine, Business Management, Economics and Information Technology.