About the Wings To Fly Program
In 2011, the Equity Group Foundation launched the Wings To Fly program with the generous support of The MasterCard Foundation with the aim of granting over 10,000 comprehensive secondary school scholarships and leadership training to academically gifted yet economically and socially marginalized young Kenyans. The program defines social and economic vulnerability to include students who have lost of one or both parents, students whose parents are living with HIV or chronic illnesses and who are unable to educate their children, and families affected by disaster such as famine
The Program has been designed to give hope to bright, deserving children by giving them the opportunity to obtain an education and resultant benefits including better educational outcomes, improved chances of success in life, increased gender equality in secondary education, new opportunities for students from rural areas to access education and greater social integration among students.
In addition to a focus on academic excellence and achievement, the program’s curriculum places an emphasis on skills development and networks to help students succeed in secondary school and beyond. Upon graduation, scholars with high academic achievements will be selected for internships with Equity Bank. They will be part of an alumni program that hosts annual conferences and facilitates networking with industry leaders.
Potential scholars are selected through a transparent and community owned selection process. District Scholarship Selection Boards (DSSB) are constituted in all recruiting districts under the coordination of the Equity Bank branch in the locality.
Students who rank in the top 5th percentile in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examinations are identified and screened based on factors of social and economic vulnerability. Local community partners who comprise the DSSB are responsible for the selection and interview process
The Wings To Fly program targets high achieving yet needy (orphan or vulnerable) students identified by assessing their performance at the nationally administered Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examinations (KCPE).
EGF, through the District Scholarship Selection Boards (DSSB), uses the following selection criteria for the scholarship:
- Must be Academically Promising – Prospective scholars must be in the top 5 percentile performing students in their District in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination.
- Must be a bona fide Orphan or Vulnerable Child (as defined below);
- Children who have lost one or both parents and have no guardian or sponsor to provide for their education; OR
- Children whose parents are physically or mentally disabled and are unable to educate their children; OR
- Children whose parents are living with HIV/AIDS or other chronic debilitating illness and are unable to educate their children; OR
- Children from families affected by natural disasters such as flooding, drought, and famine or civil conflict and are unable to educate their children; OR
- Children who have suffered neglect and/or abandonment; OR
- Children with parents living under extreme poverty and are unable to educate their children.
The program is gender and region balanced. Application is open to any student who comes from a financially disadvantaged family background and has scored among the top five percentile in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations in the participating districts.
Scholarship application forms are available at Equity Bank branches and Equity Agents as soon as the KCPE results are announced. Rigorous selection is then conducted by the District Scholarship Selection Boards (DSSB). The DSSBs have been institutionalized and serve as auxiliary organs of Equity Group Foundation. Their mandate includes selection of the program beneficiaries as well as tracking the academic performance and the general welfare of the scholars
Upon receiving applications from the candidates, the DSSBs review, shortlist, interview and select students to receive the scholarship using predefined criteria. Each DSSB is chaired by the District Education Officer (DEO) and coordinated by the Equity Bank branch manager(s) in that district. The Board comprises of a minimum of 13 local representative stakeholders including Heads of Primary & Secondary Schools Associations; District Social Development Officers; religious leaders; Constituency Development Fund (CDF) chair; local Women & Youth leaders; Equity Agent representatives, provincial and civic administration
The DSSB remains a crucial link in ensuring objectivity in the selection process, making it possible to verify the case put forth by the applicant. The wide representation of society in the DSSB makes the process widely accepted in the community as a transparent and inclusive process. To undertake its tracking and student welfare role, the DSSB holds at least two mentorship meetings with scholars in a year during school holidays during which scholars have an opportunity to share their academic performance, leadership and conduct at school.
Candidates who meet the required criteria in order of merit during the interviews are then visited at their homes by the DSSB members to ascertain the information on level of need shared in their application forms and also during the interviews. A criteria for home visits guides DSSB members in all districts to ensure uniformity in the selection and identification process.
District Flag Off Ceremonies
Once the scholars have been selected and named, each district organizes a Flag Off Ceremony to send the scholars to Nairobi for their induction and subsequent commissioning of their scholarship program. The ceremonies are organized by the DSSB and the forum is used to bring the scholars together, introduce them to each other, and provide some initial mentoring. This first encounter is critical to becoming the cohort, building camaraderie and cohesion, and creating a network amongst themselves, a relationship which they keep throughout their secondary school education, sharing experiences and encouraging one another.
For more information about this opportunity and to apply, visit the official website here