Teachers threaten to strike over delayed school capitation

KUPPET secretary general Akello Misori and National chairman Omboko Milemba. [Edward Kiplimo,Standard]

Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) has questioned the school funding plan that has led to deficit that now threatens institutions operations.

Kuppet has issued a seven-day ultimatum to the government to release the money owed to schools.

The union noted that the government has only released Sh3,877 capitation to schools instead of the Sh11,122 expected for first term.

Kuppet Secretary General Akello Misori on Wednesday said that head teachers have been subjected to ridicule and accusations of poor leadership due to delayed release of capitation, which has been slashed.

"The union is disturbed that the government has decided to institute cuts in spending in education and this negates on the principle of free education which is compulsory," he said.

Misori said that the situation has seen suppliers take some schools to court over pending bills.

The crisis in the education sector could escalate after Kuppet warned of a possible teachers strike when schools reopen for second term.

The union is considering paralysing the reopening of institutions if the government fails to disburse capitation.

Should the union make good its threat, it will be the first time teachers will be downing their tools in nearly a decade.

The last strike was in 2015.

Headteachers and Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) last week raised concern over the crisis in the education sector saying that the government had only provided a fraction of capitation funds for the first term.

Dr Kipsang on Monday was hard-pressed to explain to Members of Parliament when schools will be receive the capitation balance.

‘‘We have released 25 per cent… in the next 10 days we should have released the resources,’’ he said while appearing before the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly to reply to audit queries.

Misori questioned why the government is yet to restore monies previously used to provide students with a medical cover even after it was discontinued in January.

He said that the money allocated to Edu-Afya should be ploughed back to schools.

The Kuppet secretary-general lamented that the ministry retains funds for co-curricular activities, infrastructure development and Cemastea, for purchase of science and mathematics equipment greatly reducing capitation funds.

‘‘Our plea is to the President to protect the Constitution, which guarantees every learner free, compulsory education,’’ Misori said. 

The Ministry of Education on Monday acknowledged that had a Sh22 billion shortfall, attributed to stagnant funding for the past six years despite a surging student population. 

The allocation, according to the PS caters to only 3.2 million students, a stark contrast to the actual enrollment of 4.2 million.

To bridge the gap, the PS said the ministry has been forced to slash capitation from Sh22,224 to about Sh17,000.

This leaves the programme's sustainability in a precarious state with schools getting Sh5,000 less for capitation each year.

But at the heart of the crisis lies a stagnant education budget.

Kipsang said that the government has been providing a flat rate of Sh54 billion for capitation over the last six years.

To address the funding gaps, he said, the shortfall is expected to shrink by half at the end of the year.

The PS indicated that the exit of the 2024 KCSE candidates in November and the end in Form One admission will see the secondary school funding crisis drop from the current Sh22 billion to about Sh11 billion.

"Remember we shall not be having a Form One class so the underfunding will go down to about Sh11 billion and that is what Education Committee is trying to ensure is taken care of in this 2024/2025 financial year," he said.

Kipsang said that the remaining deficit will be provided under the 2024/2025 budget allocation following consultations with the  National Assembly Committee on Education.

Kuppet chairman Omboko Milemba asked the ministry to make its case on full capitation before Parliament so that legislators can provide for the deficit.

"It is good that this is coming up right now because the ministry has a chance to send the deficit ahead of the supplementary budget one to cater for the balance, and I will take this up in parliament," he said.

However, Milemba called for an audit of the number of students in public schools to weed out ghost students.

"Up to today, there is no explanation on how 900 students registered for KCSE but could not be found during the examination period, we need a through audit to align the number of learners with the capitation provided," he said.

The Kuppet chairman also noted that the education management system – Nemis– has disadvantaged schools as some students are not funded because their names are not in the system which is relied on for disbursement of funds.

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