Cash crunch hits public schools ahead of exams

Chairman of the Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (KESSHA) Indimuli Kahi (centre) with other national officials as they arrived in Mombasa for the 43rd annual conference on June 16, 2018.  [Gideon Maundu, Standard]

Public secondary schools are facing a cash crisis, raising concerns that this could affect preparations for the national examinations.

Head teachers yesterday cautioned that examination materials such as specimen for practical subjects for use by candidates sitting the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams might not be ready in time.

Support staff such as laboratory technicians, who are critical in exam preparations, have not been paid their salaries.

The worst hit by the crisis are day secondary schools, which do not have budgets to reallocate, as well as primary schools, which are also presenting candidates for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education.

Kenya Secondary School Heads Association National chairman Kahi Indimuli said schools were expected to make necessary timely preparations in laboratories, but were behind schedule.

“By now we are expected to make all the arrangements for examinations so that when the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) sends the list of items to be bought, we are ready,” said Mr Indimuli.

Basic Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang, however, said money would be disbursed to schools next week.

Schools expect Sh13.5 billion to be disbursed, being the remaining 20 per cent of the total allocation.

Disbursement of free education money to schools is done on a 50:30:20 ratio, with half the money sent during first term.

The Government released Sh16 billion to schools when the institutions opened for the second term.

Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed said the Government had fully settled 30 per cent of the cash for schools, meaning that all fees for second term have been paid.

Each primary school pupil receives Sh1,420 capitation per year and those in free day secondary schools are allocated Sh22,244.

Kenya Primary School Heads Association National Chairman Shem Ndolo said primary schools were also affected.

Indimuli said that as 1.7 million candidates prepare to sit examinations, the funds should be sent to schools in time.

“This is the term we expect less interruptions because of examinations,” said Indimuli.

Some 1,060,703 candidates will sit the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination, with 664,585 sitting KCSE.

KCPE examinations will be done in 27,161 centres while 10,077 centres will host KCSE candidates.

Indimuli said the situation was worse in day schools, which he said did not have votes to borrow from.

“Boarding schools can try to slash money here and there and even borrow. But day schools do not have alternative arrangements and the Government should just send the money.”

Experiencing challenges

He said day schools were also experiencing challenges where parents failed to pay amounts they are supposed to.

Under the new free day secondary education guidelines, parents are required to buy school uniform and meet the cost of lunch for their children.

“Some parents don’t pay up and schools are frustrated because they cannot send students home,” said Indimuli.

The Government increased capitation per child by Sh9,374 a year, bringing to Sh22,244, the total amount released per child per year in all secondary schools.

This means that day school tuition fees are fully catered for while boarding schools charge between Sh40,000 and Sh53,000.

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