Why governors rejected Ruto's education report

A section of the Council of Governors led by Nyeri governor Mutahi Kahiga, Kericho's Erick Mutai and Siaya's James Orengo addressed the media as they rejected the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms report on Jan 9, 2024. [Jenipher Wachie, Standard]

Governors have rejected the recommendations of the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms report saying their views were not captured in the final document.

In its current form, county chiefs said they fear the report will claw back on devolution.

“The Council of Governors (CoG) urges further consultations be undertaken to ensure the perspectives and concerns of county governments are adequately considered,” said Kericho Governor Eric Mutai, who read a statement on behalf of the county bosses.

“To this end, the recommendations of the Presidential Working Party are unacceptable to the Council as they heavily claw back on devolution,” said Dr Mutai, CoG’s Legal, Constitutional Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations and the Education Committee chairperson.

The governors, who spoke after a consultative meeting to discuss their implications of the faulted some of the recommendations, including the one on the establishment of a comprehensive school system where all levels of learning are headed by one head of the institution.

They argued the proposal does not take care of constitutional provisions of devolved functions.

“We note that there is no accountability framework provided for the proposed head of institutions to the counties regarding the management of pre-primary schools,” said Mutai.

Education is a national government function but county governments run Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE).

The governors are currently managing approximately 3,000 pre-primary schools and have employed over 54,000 pre-primary teachers.

Mutai said over 2.3 million children are presently accessing pre-primary education across the counties.

“Further, county governments cumulatively allocate over Sh8 billion every year towards education. This was unheard of before devolution where pre-primary education was mainly supported by the communities,” said Mutai, adding: “The function was devolved before costing and counties have achieved all these with no specific financial resource as they are required to support the pre-primary education function.”

The county chief also faulted the recommendation to amend the Basic Education Act to have the County Commissioner as the chair of the County Education Board.

“This is a clear reverse gear to the gains of devolution as ECDE is a fully devolved function,” Mutai said.

On hiring of pre-primary teachers by TSC, governors said the function should be a preserve of the county governments. This, they said, is captured in the High Court ruling in 2016 declaring that the function belongs to devolved units.

Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga called for a conference to validate the report saying it’s not an end to itself saying; “It’s just a recommendation. The report contains itself to what it was asked to do but should not rewrite the Constitution.”

He said the national government has never funded ECDE and the governors have worked hard to transform these institutions.

Governors however agree with the recommendation that the Ministry of Education should coordinate partners who support the national education function while they coordinate those supporting ECDEs.

They said they will not participate in any process that seeks to legislate recommendations contained in the education report. Governors may therefore not attend a meeting called by Intergovernmental Relations Technical Committee on January 16 to discuss the matter.

“County governments will continue to manage both the institutions and human resources for the constitutionally assigned functions in education and a convening of any developed sector forum will strictly be done between the two levels of government and no other entity,” Mutai said.