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Education levy would burden taxpayers

By Editorial | Jun 5th 2014 | 2 min read

Kenya: The Kenya National Union of Teachers Secretary General is proposing a new levy on taxpayers to meet the costs of education.

It is true that education, despite swallowing a sizeable amount of Kenya’s national budget, is still grossly underfunded.

But the proposal fails on many levels, not least of which is its myopic view of sustainable models for long-term financing of State services. It is better to engage development partners in discussions on how to finance programmes that directly benefit schools instead of asking Kenyans to give more money to the Ministry of Education.

Kenyans, at least the responsible citizens who pay taxes, are already over-burdened by the myriad deductions from their payslips and revenues that disappear into the black hole that is the national budget. The Government’s record of accounting for use of public funds remains poor at best.

The education sector certainly deserves more funding, but it must first deal with the elephant in the room that is corruption, especially in relation to Free Primary Education funds. Knut, which has of late been heavily courted and praised by the ministries of Labour and Education, is at risk of falling into the trap of a grand delusion of power.

It is important for teachers to know that the planned three-month campaign by Knut to lobby for the levy will be paid for by their contributions. Is it a worthwhile cause, or is there somebody behind the scenes pulling the strings?

It is not so long ago that Knut proposed that teachers should contribute some money for an amorphous kitty ostensibly to help them make ends meet when they go on strike and their pay is withheld. It is not clear what became of it or if Knut received any money.

The Sh200 billion allocated to the Education ministry in the soon-to-end financial year of 2013/2014 was not a paltry sum. Much of this money is unutilised because of delayed remittances by the ministry to schools. Knut should stop stretching the magnanimity of Kenyans.

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