Parents in Nairobi now have a reason to smile as the city government scraps school fees for all 14,000 nursery children.
The radical decision has received the nod of Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and will be passed by the county cabinet for roll-out in January next year.
County documents seen by the Standard reveal that each child will receive Sh3,170 per term to cater for all academic requirements for each kindergarten child. This means each child will receive a total of Sh9,510 annually. Special needs children will get a slightly enhanced capitation of Sh9,795 per year.
Currently, parents with children in high-end city nursery schools pay up to Sh6,000 per term, translating to Sh18,000 per year. Parents in lowest charging nursery school pay about Sh4,000 per term, translating to some Sh12,000 annually. Under the free education for nursery children, parents will only be required to purchase school uniform and provide medical care for children.
And with the abolition of fees, an additional 10,000 children are expected to enrol in the nursery schools starting January next year.
The details are contained in the Free Early Childhood and Pre Primary Education in Nairobi County seen by the Standard. A breakdown of the capitation fees per child shows the monies will cater for textbooks, supplementary reading material, exercise books per child, teacher’s guides and reference materials and play equipment for children.
The money will also cater for meals per term, contingency fees, support staff wages, renovation of classrooms, repairs, maintenance, co-curricular activities, local transport and travel, telephone, rental postage levies, environmental and sanitation fees and capacity building levies.
Additional fees have also been fixed per vote head to cater for children with special needs.
Finer details of the county plan reveal the programme will deal a major blow to cartels that have for years intercepted funds meant for nursery children. Previously, the county government spent some Sh70 million to cater for all children in county nursery schools. The budget money was controlled at the county head office and was used to purchase items like books, pencils, paper, sanitary materials and office stationery.
Also procured from the head office were office repairs and maintenance and routine maintenance of school assets.
“The absorption rate of funding has been very low due to the centralised financial control in City hall,” reads the County report.
It further says that the ‘levies charged are not accounted for and there is little or no utilisation.’
County Executive Committee (CEC) member in charge of education, Janet Ouko, yesterday admitted the plans are underway.
“What the governor is planning is to send this money directly to the schools and putting management structures for accountability,” said Ms Ouko.
She said the Government will hire head teachers for all Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) centers to run institutions and manage the resources.
“Teachers in these primary schools are directly answerable to Teachers service commission (TSC) and they use ECDE teachers in their schools to handle other classes in primary sections,” reads the report.
There are a total of 229 ECDE centers across the city. Of these, 24 centers are stand alone ECDE centers while the remaining 205 are nursery centers attached to primary schools.
Overall, the centers currently hold a total of 13, 921 children. The county document reveals that the nursery institutions will also be expanded to accommodate up to 500,000 children.
It says that there is a population of 538,258 children who are under five years of age. Out of these, 295, 961 are aged between three to five years and the rest are two years and bellow. Yet, there are only 13, 921 children enrolled in Nairobi County ECDE centers whereas there are about 280, 000 eligible children of pre school going age.
“This indicates there is a large demand of early childhood development and education services within the county to cater for all children in order to provide strong foundation in early years,” reads the document.
The county says that there is a plan to construct 85 new nursery centers to accommodate the huge number.
“Already a contract was awarded for 17 new ECDE centres in the 2016/17 financial year,” reads report.