Private schools are now demanding a slice of the Government’s free primary and secondary education money, which is currently the preserve of public schools.
Through a petition to Parliament, the private schools say they are ready to handle swelling student numbers if the Government considers channelling a portion of the billions given to public schools.
They also accuse the Government of discriminating against pupils in private schools, arguing that funding "should be tied to the student and not the school".
To support their petition, they have told the Government that it makes little logic to have public schools bursting at the seams yet private schools have the capacity to accommodate extra students if only part of the money can be channelled to the private institutions.
The petition was read by Speaker Justin Muturi last Thursday.
It states: “In spite of the said budgetary provision, children who joined private secondary schools and were captured in the Nemis system do not benefit from Government capitation of Sh22,244, which would have lessened the financial burden and aid access to basic education for all children.
"The petitioner therefore proposes that the initiative of 100 per cent transition could be further headed out through placement of students in private secondary schools which have ready capacity to absorb students instead of putting up day streams in national, extra-county and county boarding schools."
The petition is signed by Kenya Private Schools Association (Kepsa) national chairperson Mutheu Kasanga.
The petition wants Parliament to engage the Government to reconsider the capitation policy for pupils and students.
The Government pays Sh22,244 annually for every student in public secondary school and Sh1,420 for each pupil in public primary school.
Private schools argue that many students transfer from public schools for various reasons, including congestion, but their capitation is never accounted for.
"This is about the rights of every Kenyan child. Since the beginning of the year, thousands of students have transferred to private schools but no one knows where the money they were getting goes. We are not telling the Government to provide money equivalent to the school fess paid but to ensure that all children in the country benefit," said Ms Mutheu.
But to grant the wishes of private schools, Parliament would need to amend Section 29 of the Basic Education Act, 2013 and other relevant government polices on education funding.
The Act does not envisage funding for students and pupils in private schools.
The petition could ignite debate on the role of private schools in achieving universal free education.
Schools have been experiencing a surge in student numbers in secondary schools since introduction of free day learning.
The enrollment data has further gone up, thanks to the 100 per cent transition campaign that saw Ministry of Education and regional government administration officials comb through villages to admit learners to schools.
The policy introduced by former Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i in 2017 is part of a global campaign to give all children access to learning.
The pressure in high schools has been so immense that the Teachers Service Commission has requested for additional funds to increase the number of teachers.
Infrastructure in schools has also been inadequate, barely able to cater for the huge student numbers, pushing some schools to devise local arrangements to accommodate learners.
And with the campaigns for 100 per cent transition likely to be mounted again after this year's KCPE examinations, public secondary schools are headed for serious challenges.
Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang declined to comment on the petition saying he would not like to pre-empt Parliament debate.
"I’m yet to see the petition," said the PS.
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