Through the Oslo Center’s concept, Youth Assemblies, we aim to create a platform that enhances inclusive youth participation in transparent and accountable governance processes, that constructively identifies citizens’ needs and policy priorities at sub-national and national levels. In Lamu, one of the most marginalized communities in Kenya, the Youth Assembly through the dialogue forum, also known as baraza, raised pertinent issues around challenges within the education sector. These challenges affect youth’s access to existing and future opportunities which will have far-reaching negative impacts on communities such as poverty and high educational costs.
Through the Youth Assembly’s lobby and advocacy efforts, 200 high school graduates in the county were assisted to access existing sub-national and national governments’ University scholarships. Their ability to articulate these challenges and lobby key decision-makers led to the adoption of the amendment to the Lamu bursary fund Act 2019. The Lamu county bursary fund bill of 2019 had an eligibility criterion that only benefited the students in recognized public universities, a clause that locked out many deserving students.
Lamu Youth Assembly petitioned the amendment of the bill to include all students whether from public or private universities in the bursary eligibility criterion. The amendment of the bill also saw the deleting the word public, replacing it with recognized universities thus opening the fund to all students and access to higher levels of education. In addition, the amendment introduced an affirmative action clause for the minority community known as the Awer to access full education scholarships from the county governments’ bursary fund.
In addition, four Youth Assembly members have been appointed to the bursary fund implementation committees in the county to ensure the inclusion of youth perspectives. Lamu Youth Assembly has been a part of a fundamental process for the development of the education sector safeguarding access to opportunities for all citizens.