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Parents to shoulder heavier cash burden in CBC roll-out

By Augustine Oduor | February 26th 2021

Nyali School Principal John Kombo and pupils admire a crop of cassava from the school's farm on January 25. The school is using farming to teach pupils in line with the CBC. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

Parents will have to shoulder a huge part of the cost of implementing the new curriculum as the government phases out the 8-4-4-education system.

It is now clear that billions of shillings will be required to prepare basic, tertiary and university institutions in readiness for the anticipated transition of learners under the new 2-6-3-3-3 curriculum.

Part of this money will go towards constructing new classrooms, recruiting more teaching staff and training of existing ones to align with the new curriculum.

Courses revision for middle level colleges and reviewing of students funding regime, including loans and bursaries will also be undertaken in an elaborate plan to implement the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC).

Findings of the CBC task force report reveal that, based on past education funding trends; the government and parents have been the major contributors to the education sector.

“Central government and households are the largest funders of education. For instance, during the 2018/2019 Financial Year, 53 per cent of funding came from the central government, with 33 per cent from households,” reads the report.

The report's analysis on donor funding and private sector contributions reveal that their support is not adequate to support full implementation of the new curriculum.

This means that parents, who are the second largest contributors to education funding, will play a critical role in funding their children’s education under the new education system.

This reality is also reinforced by task force reference to the Kamunge Report (1988) that highlighted the practice of cost sharing in financing education sector between government and the communities, parents, religious and private organisations in operations.

“In implementing the cost-sharing strategy in the financing of education and training, the extent of sharing will vary from time to time and in each area of cost-sharing, depending on the performance of the national economy,” reads the report.

Presently, parents meet direct costs such as boarding and activity fees, uniforms, transportation and meals as government bears the full cost of tuition and infrastructure.

Already, parents are feeling the pinch of the CBC as new expectations of learners’ class activities that involve practical undertakings for homework are financially draining.

Education stakeholders yesterday said that even under the current regime of inadequate donor-funding and private sector support, schools still rope in parents to support in expanding and improving institutions' infrastructure.

The report recommends that in less than two years, the government must provide 1.5 million places in secondary schools to cater for anticipated double intake of learners, further putting pressure on funding that may be transferred to parents.

It also requires the government to hire more teachers and train more staff to align with the CBC. 

In September last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta pleaded with governors to use their education budgets to support government efforts of expanding spaces in schools.

Sources in the task force yesterday revealed that the cost of implementing the new curriculum will be huge, calling for enhanced government funding and exploring innovating financing options. 

“It would be important that a detailed analysis is undertaken aimed at establishing the realistic needs-based unit cost of all levels of education (pre-primary, primary, junior secondary, senior secondary, special needs education, teacher education, technical and university education) in context of CBC that considers equity and quality,” reads the report.

It is now feared that part of the innovative financing options will include roping in parents to contribute more towards the education of their children.

The report found that based on recent trends on education financing in the country, parents and the government still lift the huge funding load.

According to the report, the government presently spends about five to six per cent of its GDP on education, translating to about Sh447 billion for basic to university education.

The funding has largely been shaped by students’ enrollment data, infrastructure needs and staffing gaps.

“For primary school sub-sector for instance, between 2012-2018, enrollment rose by five per cent from 9.8 million to 10.5 million,” reads the report.

At secondary school level, enrollment increased from 2 million in 2013 to 2.9 million in 2018, partly due to free day secondary education.

And with the campaign for 100 per cent transition, the numbers are expected to rise. The enrollment data is further expected to go up as CBC puts an emphasis on transition of all learners to the next class, pushing up costs.

It emerged that the transition nightmare from primary schools to junior secondary and also to senior secondary schools will require huge infrastructure investments that will also call for parents’ input.

Members of the task force who spoke to The Standard said the anticipated huge funding challenge is the reason Kenyatta created a new State Department to oversee implementation of the new curriculum.

“To ensure effective implementation of these recommendations, and other curriculum reforms, I have set my hand and presidential seal and established a new State Department for Implementation of Curriculum Reforms vested in the Ministry of Education,” Kenyatta said when he received the report.

Members of the task force report said the State Department will liaise with the National Treasury, draw budgets and advise on the specific financial needs for implementation.

“The thinking is that this new State Department will synthesise the report and work closely with the Treasury to get the actual funding and draw a budget. Ours was to give direction on how to implement the new curriculum,” said a member of the task force.

The report also proposes putting emphasis on strong and sustainable partnerships with other stakeholders such as county governments, private sector, non-governmental organisations and communities.

“Other innovative ways of financing secondary education enrollment include selective scholarships and targeted financial vouchers and bursary schemes that allow students from vulnerable and lower socio-economic groups to attend schools,” reads the report.

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