Release capitation to schools before May 6

Kakamega Primary School pupils play during lunchtime at their school. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

The Ministry of Education has finally caved into pressure and postponed the reopening of schools to May 6, 2024. The directive issued yesterday morning by Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu is reactionary just as it is belated. Parents, teachers and leaders had long raised an alarm after floods destroyed some schools, but the ministry opted not to listen to their concerns.

As Machogu was postponing the reopening of institutions, some students from far-flung areas were already on their way to school. They possibly got to their schools to find them shut, and in cases where they might have been welcomed, the schools may not have a budget and programme for them for this whole week.

Even as schools were to reopen yesterday, the Ministry of Education was yet to disburse capitation to the institutions. Since most schools closed early due to financial constraints caused by insufficient government funding, one would have expected the issue to be addressed during the April holiday. One wonders whether the mandarins at the ministry know anything about proper planning and seamless execution of the same.

The government still owes schools more than Sh87 billion for the 2022/2023 and 2023/2024 financial years. Delayed release of the second tranche of capitation due for this term puts school administrators in an awkward situation. The government is supposed to allocate Sh22,244 annually per learner, which is disbursed in installments of 50 per cent in the first term, 30 per cent in the second term and 20 per cent in the third term. This has not been the case for the last two years.

Most schools have been under pressure from suppliers for defaulting on payments. Delayed disbursements may compromise the quality of education in the country, with day secondary schools, which fully depend on capitation, bearing the biggest brunt. The schools now affected by floods may be in a worse-off situation. The Ministry of Education should release the capitation before May 6.