Headteachers, stakeholders demand more disbursement of cash to schools

Omboko Milemba, national chairman KUPPET addressing the media in Nairobi on 11th October 2022 in Nairobi. [Denis Kibuchi, Standard]

Even after the government released some money to run schools, head teachers are not sure how much they are still owed.

The government last week disbursed Sh24 billion, an amount most school managers claim is a drop in the ocean while at the same time castigating the Ministry of Education for not coming clear about the cash was for which term and how much is yet to be released.

There is still a general feeling that the capitation released will be used to settle last year’s debts.

Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET), chairman, Omboko Milemba is challenging Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu to explain why the government reneged on its early promise of giving Sh28 billion.

‘‘Why did the CS lie to Parliament? He promised that he would send Sh28 billion but instead disbursed Sh24 billion. He fell short of Sh4 billion,’’ Milemba said.

While answering questions in Parliament last week, Machogu assured schools will receive Sh28 billion to ease financial constraints.

However, a day later, Sh24 billion was allocated to education, following pressure from the MPs leaving a funding gap of Sh4 billion.

Secondary schools received Sh15 billion primary schools Sh4.6 billion while Junior Secondary Schools were allocated Sh3.8 billion.

According to Milemba, unless the government reverts back to the normal disbursement formula of 50 per cent first term, 30 per cent for the second term and 20 per cent for the third term, schools will continue facing serious challenges.

‘‘As to where we are, we lost the orderly way of disbursing funds to schools. As the CS tried to remedy the situation in schools, no money was sent for this year,’’ he stated.

Maintaining Sh24 billion was not sufficient, Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (KESSHA) chairman Kahi Indimuli warned that operations risk grounding if more money is not released soon.

‘‘I would like to thank the CS for having sent some money to schools, however, the range of needs has been so complex and the financial support so thin,’’ noted Indimuli.

Indimuli said with term two of 2023 nearly midway, it is worrying that the government is still struggling to fund last year’s arrears reiterating that school heads are faced with the tough decision of paying debts against meeting recurrent expenditures.

‘‘Schools will use the money to settle last year's arrears leaving other undertakings for the year in jeopardy. We expect him to consolidate and send all the money that was due to schools this month,’’ said KESSHA boss.

Milemba warned that if the trend continues, slowly the basic education sector will follow the higher education direction that has seen them accumulate debts.

‘‘The government's core mandate is to ensure that education should be free and compulsory, and running away from funding means it is neglecting the learners,’’ he said.

‘‘Unless the CS put his foot down the snowballing effect that hit universities which have completely collapsed will soon befall high schools and primary levels," he added.

According to Milemba universities began with delay in funding before debts accumulated to hit the roof top of Sh61 billion, effectively crippling operations institutions of higher education.

Malava MP Malulu Injendi said currently schools are not sure when the next funding will come hence making it difficult for heads to plan.

‘‘Schools will remain indebted and actioned for taking loans hoping that the government would fund them,’’ he noted.

He reiterated that previously schools would receive a circular on how money would be spent and on which vote, but currently funding is released schools without a clear breakdown and guidelines.

Kenya Primary Schools Headteachers Association (KEPSHA), chairman, Johnson Nzioka said each year a school requires Sh9, 200 per learner to run its affairs effectively.

Lugari MP Nabii Nabwera said even with the dire needs in schools, the government increased funding for non-essential services.

‘‘At the backdrop of having only one teacher in JSS class and instead of increasing more money to the education sector, we are doubling funds to the office of the President and his deputy,’’ Nabwera said.

The lawmaker who is a member of the education committee said in the wake of underfunding, school heads face an uphill task of keeping the institutions afloat.

‘‘The ever-increasing workload and the growing and often complex needs of many of our children; we are not sensitive to our children by chronically underfunding them,’’ he noted.