As North Coast MTC was established in a rural, disadvantaged area, ensuring access to healthcare training for poor students was an area of focus from inception. Since the first intake in September 2012, many individuals and several organizations ensured that, through loans and sponsoring, needy youngsters got the chance to undergo training in healthcare. Since November 2015 all these types of financial aid for students are consolidated in the Student Education Fund (SEF) managed by CHPF. Through this fund, study loans are provided in collaboration with the HELB. For the poorest youngsters, a limited amount of funds is set aside to provide extra support in the form of bursaries. Very incidentally, the fund steps in to provide for daily upkeep in those few cases where that is an issue.
The emphasis on student loans rather than bursaries appeared appropriate in view of sustainability and the almost guaranteed job after completing their studies for medical, paramedical and nursing students. The HELB reported last year that out of their supported students who completed midlevel healthcare training, 98% had a job within one month! This makes the burden of a study loan very tolerable. Students are obliged to start paying back from one year after completion of their studies. These repayments can then be used to issue out new study loans. From the first few classes that graduated from North Coast MTC, the experience has been the same; most students were working within a month and when the college wanted to recruit a few graduates from nursing to assist in training, it was not possible as all were already busy working elsewhere!
The collaboration between CHPF and HELB is mutually supportive. As CHPF, we are very happy with the collaboration which has ensured that the management of the study loans including disbursement and recovery is handled by an agency that has the right legal mandate and backing to do so. The HELB is very happy with the collaboration as they are trying to increase funds available for youth in Kenya who want to access tertiary education and they have featured our collaboration several times in their quite successful efforts to encourage other organizations, institutions, and counties to do the same.
Disbursements made as study loans
In 2017, the disbursements were increasingly in line with the policy of CHPF that the disbursements from the CHPF-HELB fund should follow the disbursement from the national study fund of the HELB which is accessible for all students in tertiary education. That general fund became fully available in 2013 and had by the end of 2017 made 241 disbursements to students in North Coast MTC. Also, four disbursements were made to North Coast MTC students from the Taita-Taveta-fund; the fund that one of the coastal counties has now established with the HELB.
We follow the disbursement of the national fund so that funds from CHPF are only used to support those for who the generally available support is insufficient and who have also demonstrated to have put serious efforts in raising school fees in all ways possible. The only exception are those students for whom fees have been guaranteed by a dedicated donor to that specific student. In 2017, the far majority but not all disbursements were in line with this policy. For the disbursement of early 2018, this policy was fully applied. Implementation of this policy has one disadvantage: when the general fund disbursement delays, the disbursement from CHPF-HELB also delays. That’s why funds received at the end of 2017 could only be allocated and be disbursed in the first half of 2018 to 105 beneficiaries.
Substantial investments will still be required in the fund until the academic year 2020-2021. Around that time, the capital base should be large enough to sustain most of the fund.
Disbursements made as bursaries
Bursaries are incidental disbursements that are made on one out of three considerations:
- To help a student join a training course if study loans are not available yet at the beginning of the course
- To help a student to clear a remaining fee balance at the end of his or her training to enable him or her to actually sit for the final and national examinations
- To help students who along the way have demonstrated a lot of commitment in applying for study loans and who are, if funds are available, considered eligible to receive a small part of their support as a bursary that does not need to be refunded.
Disbursements made as Upkeep
Upkeep is only provided on advice of the program assistant and the principal of the school . For many of the students, the program assistant also functions as a counsellor as she is very aware of the stress some of them go through. The principal observes when students start missing classes in efforts to raise some additional funds to survive. When it is noticed that the situation threatens to go out of hand, the fund steps in to provide some financial support for food and personal necessities like toothpaste and sanitary towels.