Equity, Mastercard spend over Sh. 200m to support Wings To Fly Scholars' learning during the current COVID-19 lockdown

Equity’s Enterprise Branch Wings to Fly champion Joyce Wachira (left) demonstrates to guardian Richard Onguti (centre) and a beneficiary of Equity’s Wings to Fly scholarship program Khadija Addala (right), how the solar-powered lamp cum transistor radio is recharged using a solar panel.  Equity Group Foundation (EGF) in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation has rolled out an initiative to ensure 14,600 Wings to Fly and Elimu Scholarship scholars continue with their education during the COVID-19 crises.
Equity Group has partnered with Mastercard Foundation Scholars Programme to support over 14,600 students in the Wings to Fly and Elimu scholarship programmes to access education at home during the current COVID-19 lockdown. 

The programmed valued over Ksh. 200 million (USD $1.93 million) will see secondary school scholars being provided with a solar powered device to ensure continued access to their lessons currently being aired on Government-owned radio and TV stations. 

Additionally, each of the 13,800 secondary school students and 800 alumni of the Wings to Fly scholarship program currently in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) will receive a monthly stipend for June through August to enable access to essential food and personal items.

“We wanted the Scholars to have an equal opportunity through continued access to their class lessons during this difficult stay-at-home period. With many of them coming from financially challenged backgrounds, access to a radio for purposes of following the classroom lessons was going to be a big challenge. Additionally, with the majority of the Scholars not having access to electricity, we opted for solar powered gadgets. We believe that the Scholars are now well-equipped to keep up to date with their lessons,” said Dr. James Mwangi, Managing Director and CEO of Equity Group Holdings, and Executive Chairman of EGF.

The device contains a radio, and a mobile charging unit for cell phones as well as a lamp that can allow studying after dusk. 

Because each household contains 5-6 students, it is estimated the programme will reach 70,000 learners with curriculum as well as COVID-19 public health messages and advisories. 

EGF distributed the equipment through the Equity infrastructure of branches and its agency network across the country.

Daniel Hailu, Regional Head, Eastern and Southern Africa at the Mastercard Foundation stated, “Advancing equitable and inclusive access to education remains a top priority for the Foundation. The impact of COVID-19 requires us to be intentional about how we ensure the pandemic doesn't exacerbate existing gaps in education. In fact, this is the opportunity to seek out and promote innovative technology-driven solutions to bridge emerging gaps and even leapfrog the capacity and quality of educational delivery across the continent.”

In addition to gaining the capacity to continue studying at home, student households will receive a stipend of Kshs 3,000 per Scholar per month for three months, that will contribute to household needs for food and other essentials. The stipends will also allow the beneficiaries to have airtime and data for mobile phone usage where possible.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, all academic institutions in Kenya were closed indefinitely in March 2020 and delivery of the curriculum moved to broadcast channels and digital platforms. 

Many families faced the challenge of accessing lessons at home. 

For scholarship recipients in the Wings to Fly, TVET and Elimu programme in partnership with the Government of Kenya, this meant a return to households that could not provide access to learning. 

EGF moved to support learners by designing a program that would equitably help students and their families to continue their studies at home.
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