Schools close as MPs dig in on fund delays

Students on their way home for the First term break. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Schools continue to close this week for the April holiday even as legislators fault the government for the continued delay in disbursing capitation funds.

Last week, The Standard established that several secondary schools opted for early closure, disregarding the official closing date of April 5, owing to financial crunch.

Some principals allowed learners to go home even as Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu announced the government had release Sh30 billion to be shared by junior schools, secondary schools and universities.

He further indicated that the funds will be in school before the start of the April holiday. This means that the schools will receive the funds by the end of this week. The delay in funding has seen MPs weigh in on the matter.

Malava MP Malulu Injendi said the two tranches of funds received by schools this year cannot sustain their operations.

Injendi, who is the vice-chairman of the Education Committee in the National Assembly, said due to late disbursement, principals had a challenge maintaining learners in schools.

“I know that some of these principals have had a rough time managing school affairs forcing some to close early,’’ he added. Marakwet South MP Timothy Kipchumba said the most challenged schools are those with low enrolments because they get less funds. 

Some school principals who spoke to The Standard in confidence expressed their dissatisfaction over late release of capitation funds.

The school heads said the money was too little and had come late.

Another principal in Machakos said they had accumulated debts, making it challenging for schools to stay afloat.

“We are really struggling. Current and former students owe us millions of shillings in fees. Some of the Form Ones joined without paying any fees,” he said.

According to the principal, schools with low enrolment bore the brunt of delayed capitation.

Feeding programmes

Kenya Primary School Heads Association chairman Johnson Nzioka said late release of the money disrupts feeding programmes.

“Delays in remittances of capitation affect feeding programmes. In some areas, it is the feeding that keep students in school. But when you delay the money, it becomes difficult to hold them,” he explained.

Another principal in Nairobi said situations on the ground forced principals to send learners home to avoid pressure in school.

“As a principal, you learn very fast that what keeps students in school is meals,” he said.