Schools to lose Sh20 billion as Form One doors close next year

Parents and Form One students during the admission of Form One students at Aquinas High School in Nairobi on January 15, 2024. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Secondary schools in the country are bracing for a major restructure that will lead to the institutions shrinking in size, and possibly downsize staff as they swallow a cut in funding.

With only six months remaining to the exit of this year’s Form Four class and absence of a Form One class next year, an unfamiliar learning environment lies ahead for teachers. 

Schools will be witnessing the first major impact of the progressive phase out of the 8-4-4 system as the country transitions to the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC).

Meanwhile from January, there shall only be Form Two, Form Three and Form Four classes as the secondary schools prepare to host CBC Grade 10, Grade 11 and Grade 12 with the pioneer class reporting in 2026.

An analysis by The Standard established that public secondary schools across the country will stand to lose up to Sh20 billion in government funding through capitation due to the anticipated restructure.

Schools receive Sh22,244 per student as capitation annually. The picture is even grimmer, for boarding schools, who are set to further lose out on direct fees paid by the students.

Those in the national school category will further lose direct fees paid per student currently set at Sh53,069. On the other hand, fee for extra-county or county schools is set at Sh45,069 per learner.

This means, for instance, a national school with 300 candidates set to sit this year’s KCSE exams  will lose at least Sh15.9 million while an extra county school with similar number of students will be entitled to about Sh13.5 million each year.

School heads argue the expected change will have a negative implication on the institutions that are already struggling to meet their operations due to underfunding.

Willy Kuria, chairman, Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association warned that a cut in funding will condemn the institutions to serious distress.

In his assessment, the decline in population will free infrastructure such as classes, laboratories and dormitories. 

However, Kuria argues, the decline in population will have little impact on the cost of operations in most schools.

“The utility bills in school such as water and power bills will largely remain unchanged even with the decline in numbers,” Kuria said while warning that a decline in funding might force the institutions to downsize. 

“If you lose funding and your operation cost is still high then you are forced to look into other avenues which will include cost cutting so you’ll probably see some schools let go of Board of Management teachers, and in some cases losing some non-teaching staff,” he added.

Private schools will also be hard hit by the decline in the number of students. Kenya Private Schools Association chairman Charles Ochome acknowledging the impending change said the institutions will individually adjust to fit come next year.

According to Ochome, private schools solely depend on fees paid by the students and a shrink in revenue will attract changes to ensure sustainability.

“One of the major effects we might see is the lose of jobs in our schools, if a school finds itself with a bloated staff they will then need to take some action,” said Ochome in an interview with The Standard.

The good news however, is that a shrunk population could offer a reprieve to the chronic congestion problem that has plagued secondary schools since the introduction of the 100 per cent transition policy.

Moses Nturima, the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers acting secretary-general said the decline in numbers will give a reprieve to the teacher shortage problem.

He suggests that school heads reassess the staffing gaps in schools when the institutions re-open next year.

“Congestion has been a major problem in schools since the 100 per cent transition policy, this also gave rise to other problems such as alleviating teacher shortage but the decline in the number of students will have an underhand to subvert some of this,” Nturima said.

He indicated that the extra classes could be used to resettle learners in congested classes and others repurposed to other facilities such as laboratories and workshops.