Schools face early closures amid debilitating cash crisis

The National Education Management Information System (Nemis) system in use during the registration of Form One students at St Patrick’s Iten in Elgeyo Marakwet County. [File, Standard]
About 200 secondary school heads have no money to run their institutions for the next 10 weeks.

Used to the traditional method of submitting estimates of the number of students in their institutions, the National Information Management Information System (Nemis) appears to have caught some heads unprepared.

Some of the affected schools had contemplated taking bank loans hedged on the fees collection from students but they have been stopped in their tracks by the county directors of education.

“There is no way I can keep 200 students, majority of them boarders, in my school with no money. The suppliers cannot lend me anymore because the school owes them Sh4 million,” said one principal from Makueni.

SEE ALSO :Schools miss cash over new system

According to the teacher, the ministry sent the school its allocation last term based on submitted estimates. However, in second term, the actual statistics and details of all students were submitted in the hope this would unlock capitation.

Overpaid schools

“When the government finally released the money, I expected 30 per cent of capitation. It was however reduced to 15 per cent. I was also informed that the school had been overpaid in the previous allocations,” said the teacher.

So instead of getting the Sh800,000 the teacher expected, he was informed that all had been withheld on account of the over payment and that he still owed the ministry Sh200,000 which will be recovered in the next release.

Another affected teacher from Laikipia described the nightmare he was living through after getting nothing even after going through the whole of first term without money.

SEE ALSO :Capitation: Sh59b relief for principals

“Last term, it was bad news. This term it is a disaster. According to Nemis, I was allocated money but it went to pay for the extra we got last year. I have 200 students and I do not know what to feed them on. I have workers to pay. I spend at least Sh20,000 on meals alone per week and there are 10 weeks. What will I do?”

The teacher said he dreaded encountering his suppliers whose patience has run thin after they were not paid even after giving goods and services on credit in the hope that their debts would be settled after the second term tranche was released by the ministry.

But some heads admitted that their colleagues had themselves to blame. One principal said some heads were reluctant to strictly adhere to the system, thus ending up missing out. He even cited one who wasn’t conversant with Nemis, and relied on cyber cafe attendants and could therefore not log into the system for confirmation.

A Ministry of Education official who declined to be named said there was a crisis over what he termed as “foolish use of estimates” by the affected schools.

According to the ministry, the affected principals had been using inflated number of students to get money from the government, but have been busted by the use of Nemis.

SEE ALSO :Mystery of missing 5 million primary school pupils

The introduction of Nemis, the officer said, had eliminated guesswork and flushed out principals who have over the years been using exaggerated numbers to get more money for their schools.

Before the government can release money to schools, details of all students are supposed to be in Nemis.

Foolproof method

At the beginning of this month, the ministry disbursed Sh10.8 billion to secondary schools.

Each learner is supposed to get Sh22,244 annually (secondary) while primary school pupils get Sh1,420.

This money is supposed to be released in phases of 50 per cent in first term, 30 per for second term and the last tranche of 20 per cent in third term.

According to ministry statistics, there are 8,592 public secondary schools with a combined population of more than 2.7 million students whose tuition is catered for by the government.

“The Nemis is a foolproof method and captures the real scenario in schools in real time. Even when a student is transferred, the ministry will know and send his capitation to the new school unlike in the past when there as double allocation,” a senior education official said. 

Earlier in March, the Kenya National Examination Council (Knec) announced it would deregister more than 370,000 candidates affected by duplication of birth certificate numbers

Investigations by Sunday Standard show that although the Ministry of Education has already disbursed the capitation for the affected schools, the money has been retained by Jogoo House.

But some schools claimed that the money they had received was lower than the number of students submitted through Nemis. 

The Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (KESSHA) chairman, Indimuli Kahi,  described the issue of broke schools as too sensitive and a career breaker. 

Fraud from where?

“I do not want to talk you about. I have been misquoted in the past over the issue and  this has put me in a lot of mess. Kindly leave me out of this,” Kahi said.

A County Director of Education we contacted abruptly switched off her phone  lamenting: “Why have you picked on my county when the problem is widespread?”

When we called Education CS George Magoha, he initially indicated that he was in a meeting and advised us to call later. Later calls to his line went unanswered and so were our questions sent through Whatsapp which were also copied to his PS Belio Kipsang who was also out of reach.

But Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET)  Kisumu branch Executive Secretary Zablon Awange blamed the financial mess in schools to what he termed as fraud emanating from the ministry headquarters.

We are undertaking a survey to help us improve our content for you. This will only take 1 minute of your time, please give us your feedback by clicking HERE. All responses will be confidential.

NemisSecondary SchoolsGeorge MagohaEducation