ASSETS distributes funding from Eco-tourism to provide scholarships for secondary school children who would otherwise be unable to afford the school fees. ASSETS encourages the local people to value the forest and creek by equally distributing the benefits from eco-tourism throughout the local communities. In addition ASSETS beneficiaries are involved in various conservation activities.
The number of schools and children being supported has grown steadily since the project was initiated in 2002. currently, 10 out of 36 schools lying within five kilometers of the forest and creek have been incorporated into the scheme. depending on sufficiency of funding, ASSETS aims at adopting two new schools each year.
ASSETS is currently funded by eco-tourism activities, local hotels, other stakeholders and donations. To boost eco-tourism in Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and Mida Creek, a tree house and mangrove walkway and bird hide have been constructed. The construction of the latter has been funded by the Small Grants Programme of the Global Environment Facility (United Nations Development Programme). the profits from the small entrance fee provides sustainable source of income for the ASSETS Eco-bursary fund.
Any child living within 3km of the forest and creek who has been accepted into secondary school is eligible to apply for an ASSETS eco-bursary. If an ASSETS student maintains a satisfactory academic and disciplinary record and their family refrains from any illegal exploitation of the forest and creek, they will be supported throughout their four years of secondary school.
ASSETS has set out a procedure for assessing the needs of each student, to target the funds at those who are in greatest need. Each student who applies fills out an application form giving details about their academic performance, general conduct, parents' occupation and comments from teachers and the Area Chief. Conduct and academic performance are checked each term throughout the period of support.
It is vital that families do not become reliant on the bursaries, but make an effort to contribute to their children's education themselves. For this reason, no student is given a 100% scholarship. In addition, we ask that each beneficiary makes a contribution of Kshs 300 (£3/$4) per school term to the ASSETS eco-bursary fund to support future scholarships.