Why public secondary schools may close early

Education CS Ezekiel Machogu and PS Belio Kipsang. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

Some public secondary schools may close this week to ease the financial burden that has weighed down the institutions due to delayed release of capitation money.

The Standard has established that several secondary schools will send students home this week as they grapple with serious financial challenges.

According to the revised school calendar, the term began on January 8, 2024, and the official closing date was set for April 5.

Kenya Primary Schools Association (Kepsha) National Chairman Johnson Nzioka said it is getting difficult to sustain school operations.

"We have been promised that money would be sent and we have been waiting. We needed the money to alleviate pressure from head teachers," said Nzioka.

Some of the parents who spoke to The Standard acknowledged receiving messages from schools to pick their children.

"I have just received a message to pick my student from school before Easter holiday," said a parent in Nairobi.

Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) Secretary-General  Akelo Misori said early closure means that the government has not honoured its pledge to send capitation to schools.

“The promises by the ministry are all lies and it is unfortunate that school managers have been punished to run schools without money,” said Misori.

He said that principals will not reopen schools until money is released.

“We shall not allow teachers to report to schools to manage stress levels again. MPs must appropriate sufficient funds to run public schools and also hire new teachers,” said Misori. 

Last week, Basic Education PS  Bellio Kipsang said that the school capitation will be available to the institutions this week.

"We have released 25 per cent… in the next 10 days we should have released the resources,’’ Kipsang said.

PS spoke while appearing before the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly to reply to audit queries.

Under free primary education and free day secondary education policies, the government sets aside Sh1,420 and Sh22,244 for each learner as capitation funds for primary and secondary schools respectively every year.

This money is supposed to be remitted termly using a 50: 30: 20 formulae.

In January, National Treasury released Sh31.34 billion in capitation ahead of schools’ reopening.

Out of this, Sh.4.74 billion was disbursed for free primary education, Sh7.6 billion for Junior Secondary Schools and Sh16.2 billion for free day secondary schools in the first term.

Government also released Sh2.8 billion to cater for school examination and invigilation costs.

However, the released funds were only a fraction of the money the government was to provide for capitation.

Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Secretary-General Collins Oyuu said schools must close early because principals cannot feed the learners.

“There is only one option: to close schools. And this is because school heads cannot generate food to give learners. This is a big crisis that we must bite the bullet and make right decisions,” said Oyuu.

The Standard established that some schools may send learners home before Easter holiday.

The early closures will see some learners lose a week of learning time.

A spot check by the Standard shows that most schools within Nairobi are planning to release students before the Good Friday celebration.

School principals who spoke to the Standard said that failure by the government to release capitation has occasioned the crisis which has seen most learning institutions struggle to execute day to day activities.

Oyuu warned that school programmes may soon grind to a halt owing to delayed disbursement of Free Primary Education and Free Secondary Education funds for this year.

Knut demanded the immediate disbursement of capitation funds to avert a crisis in learning institutions.

Union said several school heads have decried the funding crisis which they argued hampers smooth operations in learning institutions.

Misori said schools will not open in second term unless the Sh54 billion owed to schools in capitation is paid. 

Union officials also opposed the recent budgetary cuts in the Ministry of Education, particularly the reduction of secondary school capitation from Sh22,224 to Sh17,000 per learner.