Mombasa, Kenya: This year’s five-day secondary school heads conference opened in Mombasa Monday to deliberate on Government funding on the education sector, even as debate raged on the value of such annual forums.
Estimates from participants indicate that the forum will cost over Sh300 million, which includes allowances for the over 7,000 delegates.
Interview with several school heads indicate that each delegate will get allowance depending on his job group and those at job group M expected to be paid Sh7,000 per day.
Those in job group N, who according to the participants are the majority will earn Sh8,000 while those in Job group P, Q and R expected to be paid Sh10,000 per day.
On average, all the school principals participating in the 39th annual delegate conference are expected to earn Sh8,000 per day and this brings the total each will pocket by the end of the function in five days at Sh40,000.
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According to the organisers of the function, there are over 7,000 school heads participating in the conference, meaning that over Sh280 million will be spent to pay their allowances.
“This money is not paid by the sponsors. We are actually paid by our respective school boards before we embark on the journey to come to Mombasa. This is exclusive of the transport cost which depends on the distance,” said one of the principals who sought anonymity. He said he was in Mombasa for a similar forum last year.
He said most of the participants were in job group N, and that those in job group M, P, Q and R were not many.
Another principal, who also did not want to be named, said the modest estimated cost of the conference was more than Sh300 million when the cost of transport and the venue are included.
Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association Chairman Mr John Awiti, said he was aware that there were questions over the value of the conference but noted that the benefits of the convention were many.
“There are questions about the value of this conference. But there are so many challenges facing the sector and we are here to deliberate and come up with solution and I urge all school heads to participate fully,” said Mr. Awiti.
The conference is expected to come up with measurse to curb wastage in the management of the money allocated by the Government to secondary schools and map out new ways the institutions can generate income and fill budget gaps.
In his presentation Monday, the Director of Secondary and Tertiary Mr Robert Masese emphasiSed on the need to embrace methods that will reduce costs at the institutions while coming up with methods to generate more revenue.
Other participants defended the conference, saying it presents the opportunity for the school principals to share ideas.
“It is actually a good forum to get information from the ministry on policy, to have a chance to ask out our employer (Teachers Service Commission) questions and also have a chance to relax because as you are aware, running schools is a very tiresome job,” said George Essendi, the Principal of St Gerald Shanjero, in Kakamega East.
The forum also gives each region an opportunity to present their best teachers, a move Mr Essendi said motivates the teachers.