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10,000 head teachers at Free Primary Education forum

By - Benard Sanga | Sep 2nd 2013 | 3 min read

By Benard Sanga

MOMBASA; KENYA: More than 10,000 primary school head teachers converge in Mombasa to deliberate on issues affecting the Free Primary Education (FPE).

The teachers started arriving in Mombasa last Friday for the five-day conference that will be held at the Sheikh Zayed Children’s Centre in Mombasa starting today.

On Sunday they registered in anticipation for Tuesday’s official opening by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The National Delegates Conference brings together key officials of the Kenya Primary Schools Head Teachers Association (Kepsha).

Deputy President William Ruto, Education Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi and Israeli diplomats are expected to speak at the forum.

According to Joseph Karuga, the national chairman of Kepsha, teachers want the amount allocated per a child reviewed from the current Sh1,020 to Sh8,000.

He said the amount had not been reviewed since 2003 despite changing economic realities, thus leading to the deterioration of education standards in the country.

“Last year we agreed with then minister for Education that the amount would have been increased from Sh1,020 to Sh3,000. With the current economic realities, it is very difficult to give quality education to a child with such meagre budget that was arrived at based on the economic realities of 2003,” said Karuga.

Slow disbursement

The association chair also lamented that the government was slow in disbursing the funds, saying so far schools have received eight per cent of the amount required for the second term.

Education PS Bellio Kipsang, however, said plans were under way to settle the second term debt this week.

He said the State owes primary schools Sh718 million and some Sh3.2 billion for secondary schools.

Kenya National Union of Teachers national chairman Wilson Sossion termed as “immoral” the move to withhold education money that should have been released at the start of second term.

The government disburses 50 per cent of the amount required for FPE in the first term, 30 per cent in second term and 20 per cent for third term. Although schools are expected to reopen today, Mr Sossion said the government had not released the whole of 30 per cent.

And since 2008, secondary students have been getting Sh10,265. This is the year free day secondary school programme was implemented.Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (Kessha) said  the amount per secondary student be  reviewed to over Sh20,000.

Association national chairman John Awiti said next term, each student should receive money based on the price index of commodities.

Price unit

“Since 2008 when free day secondary was launched, every price unit has more than doubled. The amount to schools should also be doubled,” he said.

And the conference would also discuss the implementation of the laptop project in schools.

Though the association was not against the free laptop project, Kepsha chairman said teachers want to be involved from its inception. “The integration of ICT in our education system is very important to make children relevant in the present world and though we anticipate some challenges like maintenance and security of the gadgets, we should not be deterred,” said Karuga.

The head teachers’ annual meeting would also discuss the new Basic Education Act 2013 and its implementation, he said.

He said the conference would provide a forum for teachers to enhance their understanding of the new legislation as well as the education policy as articulated by Sessional Paper No 14 of 2012.

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