In what will come as good news to parents, the government plans to supply face masks, soap and sanitisers to learners at a cost of Sh2.1 billion when schools reopen next month.
The government has also committed to spending Sh28.8 billion to construct additional classrooms and repair existing ones to expand learning space in the next two years.
Sh10 billion will be used to hire additional primary and secondary school teachers in the next two years.
The school feeding programme will also be expanded to the tune of Sh5.6 billion to cover more institutions, and boards of management asked to implement comprehensive health policies.
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These are part of the grand plans the government has lined up for implementation when learning resumes on January 4.
The details are contained in the Sh929.5 billion National Treasury and Planning Post-Covid-19 Economic Recovery Strategy (2020-2022).
The Education sector is the biggest beneficiary of the two-year stimulus plan, as more cash will go towards reforming primary, secondary and university education.
The purchase of masks for learners has however been a sticky issue, with parents asking the government to relieve them of the burden when schools reopen.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha had earlier said the government would require Sh1.1 billion to supply two face masks per child.
The idea seemed to have been dropped after National Parents Association Chairman Nicholas Maiyo said masks would be part of school uniform to be purchased by parents.
The government document says that between now and June next year, some Sh500 million will be spent to supply masks, soaps and sanitisers. Another Sh600 million will be used in the next financial year for a similar exercise.
And for secondary schools, Sh1 billion will be used in the next two years to supply masks. The initial Sh800 million will be spent this financial year with the balance used in the next fiscal year.
“Parents have been looking forward to benefit from the stimulus package that has been extended to many sectors. If they take over the supply of masks, it will be a huge reprieve for us,” said Maiyo.
Finer details reveal that the government also plans to review school’s capitation sent per child in the next two years, and allocated Sh152.1 billion.
As part of the plan to support free education, Sh73.1 billion will be sent to schools. Another Sh78.9 billion will be sent in the next financial year.
The money will be used to provide instructional materials and operational subsidy for all students in secondary school, and will also be used to review the Differentiated Unit Cost (DUC) for secondary education.
“It will also be used to strengthen learner protection systems within secondary schools and monitoring compliance with safety standards to ensure hygiene practices are strictly maintained,” reads the report.
Primary and secondary school heads welcomed the plan, saying the institutions will need proper funding when learning resumes.
“With the new school timetable to recover lost time, we will need proper and prompt funding to sustain smooth running of schools and also observe Covid-19 protocols,” said Kahi Indimuli, the chairman of the Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (KSSHA).
On secondary schools’ infrastructure, Sh2.5 billion will be spent on building 100 tuition blocks in extra-county boarding schools in the next two years.
Another Sh20.1 billion will be used to construct 6,352 classrooms, 4,838 sanitation facilities and 4,366 laboratories across the country.
And for primary schools’ infrastructure, Sh1.2 billion will be spent to put up classrooms and refurbish ablution blocks.
Another Sh5 billion will be used to improve schools under the water, sanitation and hygiene programmes. Moreover, Sh500 million will be spent to improve infrastructure in secondary schools with facilities for students with special educational needs and disabilities.
On the feeding programme, Sh5 billion will go towards nationwide expansion of school meals programmes. Another Sh500 million will be used to implement comprehensive school health policies.
“The programme aims at promoting access, retention and transition of vulnerable and marginalised children in Asal and hardship areas through School Health Nutrition and Meals (SHNM),” reads the report.
The money will be used to expand school meals programmes to include fortified porridge and hot meals, sensitising school cooks on hygiene, sanitation and safe food preparation and training educators to carry out school-based health activities.
Still in the secondary schools’ reforms plan, Sh4 billion will be set aside to provide learners in boarding schools with a scholarship grant. Another Sh1 billion will be conditional cash transfer programme for learners in under-served areas.
Some Sh645 million will be used to recruit professional counselors for secondary schools and another Sh672 million to construct counseling units in sub-counties.
The government will spend Sh1.1 billion to strengthen child protection systems within schools.
Also budgeted for is Sh500 million to provide learners with psycho-social support for the next two years.
Another Sh1.1 billion has also been planned to assist teachers, learners and education staff to deal with post-trauma stress.
Overall, for the next two years, the post-Covid economic recovery strategy programme seeks to increase Net Enrollment Rate (NER) through developing a funding framework for public pre-primary and primary education.
“The programme also seeks to provide instructional materials and operational subsidy for all students in public pre-primary and primary schools and enhancing the safety of learners by implementing provided health protocols such as provision of face masks to all the learners,” reads the report.
For universities, Sh103 billion will be disbursed as capitation grants allocated through DUC for the next two years. Sh1.4 billion will be used to expand universities accommodation capacity to hold an additional 8,000 students.