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Free education programme set for major reforms

By - | Updated Fri, April 12th 2013 at 00:00 GMT +3

By Augustine Oduor

KENYA: Former President Kibaki’s free education programme could be headed for a major review once an audit report is out.

Ministry of Education has instituted a survey to set pace for efficient and seamless provision of education to all children in light of the 2010 Constitution.

This means children may never be sent home for fees as the State is considering full payment of fees complete with examination and other levies that burden parents.

There could also be significant shift in funding children’s learning, from the current system of capitation where the monies are wired directly to school accounts.

Education PS George Godia said constitutional provisions on the child’s right to free and compulsory education prompted the survey.

“It is the State’s responsibility to ensure all children get basic education. This means we have to re-look the entire architecture of free education,” he said.

He added: “It is now law that a child’s interest is paramount. This means we have to re-think the whole concept of free education,” he said.

school fees headache

Godia said there is already several cases against schools for sending away children for school fees, project monies, uniform, examination fees and other costs and noted the ministry has to provide a solution.

He said the decision to review the entire programme was arrived at after an extensive discussion with the Treasury.

Godia said the Treasury is keen to know the total cost of keeping a child in school.

“If schools do not have to send children back home for school fees, project monies, uniform, examination fees and other levies then what would be this cost?’ he said.

Figures from the ministry indicate so far some Sh190 billion has been spent in financing free education.

Godia said his ministry has appointed a team to work together with the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) to re-think the programme.

The team will among other things evaluate the design, implementation and impact of free primary education and free day secondary education.

“They will also identify the cost drivers of basic education, establish the unit cost of basic education and identify sources of financing basic education,” reads in part the concept note.

Also being evaluated is whether the Government should continue the capitation system of financing children’s education.

Sending money

“We are asking whether we should continue with the same mode of sending monies to schools through capitation or we can find alternative methods,” he said.

The PS said other ways that would be considered might emulate the African Development Bank system where they buy equipment and send them directly to schools.

Recently, Hong Kong residents donated Sh58 million for  the education of children in West Pokot County. Funds were raised by individuals, public and the private sector.