Release capitation funds to end woes in schools

Grade six pupils follow through rice cooking practicals and process at Mully Children's primary school in Matuu, Machakos County on October 05,2022 in preparation of their final exams to Junior secondary education. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

School principals have warned that they will increase school fees and drop some school activities due to financial constraints. The head teachers have complained about the high prices of foodstuffs and failure by the government to remit capitation money in full, and in good time. According to the principals, the government is yet to give schools full capitation for 2021 and 2022. Schools only received Sh17,000 and Sh18,000 per student in 2021 and 2022 respectively, yet each student is supposed to get Sh22,240.

The government has consistently warned head teachers against charging tuition and increasing school fees. Kenya gazette notice number 15555 of March 11, 2015 directs parents to pay Sh53,554 (national schools) and Sh40,535.00 (boarding schools) while the government pays Sh22240. Increasing school fees at this time would be a burden on parents already ravaged by the effects of Covid-19 and a poor economy that has eroded their earning and purchasing power.

However, revelations that the government has not been faithful in remitting capitation expose the difficulties that principals go through trying to run schools. The cost of maize and beans have skyrocketed, but schools must buy them in bulk to feed students. Left with no alternative but to run their respective institutions, the principals become creative by passing the burden to parents who can barely cope.

It is unfair for the government to hold principals to ransom over capitation, yet go ahead to issue directives that put them on a collision course with parents. Kenyans were promised free education, but what they get is anything but free. Excessive school charges have stopped many learners from humble backgrounds from accessing education, which is a constitutional right. Further, restrictions that keep children away from school fly in the face of the government's commitment to eradicate illiteracy.

The government should increase capitation to Sh30,000 as teachers have requested to help them cope with soaring prices and other costs. Timely despatch of capitation will allow school principals to plan and resort less to imposing illegal levies on parents to bridge financial shortfalls occasioned by government bureaucracy.

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