William Ruto's one year of shake up in education sector

President William Ruto receives education reform report from Education CS Ezekiel Machogu and representatives of Presidential Working Party on Educational Reforms at State House  Nairobi. [PCS]

One year since William Ruto was elected president, the education sector has witnessed a shake-up in operations that will affect it from primary schools to universities.

The changes range from an overhaul of the university funding model to adjustment of the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC).

Prior to his administration, Dr. Ruto had articulated his intention to use education to drive his bottom-up economic model.

“The greatest enabler of the Kenya Kwanza coalition is education, education is responsible for shaping and sharpening our human capital,” Ruto said during the launch of the Kenya Kwanza Education charter.

He indicated that the plan was to have an affordable, accessible, relevant and the right quality of education.

Just days after his swearing in– September 13 2022– the President picked a team to review the contentious Competency Based Curriculum.

The team was led by Professor Raphael Munavu and officially released the report on July 31 this year with sweeping recommendations on the CBC.

For the first time, Free Primary Education – which is a brainchild of Kenya’s third President the Late Mwai Kibaki– will receive increased funding since 2003.

The programme has over the 20 years received Sh1,420 per leaner and was never reviewed under President Uhuru Kenyatta,

However, the proposed reforms now recommend a Sh818 increment on the amount to Sh2,238.

Another first will be inclusion of capitation for nursery school at about Sh1,170 per learner.

Under the Uhuru Kenyatta administration, there was no capitation to nursery schools but some county governments issued an amount they deemed fit while some did not provide any capitation.

The Kenya Kwanza administration came at a critical time when the pioneer class of the CBC was transiting from primary to junior school.

In that effect, President Ruto in January directed Junior secondary school students get Sh15,043 each as capitation while Sh22,527 for each learner in senior school.

However, digging into the changes, the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) secretary general Akello Misori on Monday dismissed the capitation increment noting it as insignificant.

“The increase is minimal and will not address the funding gaps that exist in schools, the government should have increased to reflect the real economic situation,” Misori said in an interview.

Under Kenya Kwanza, schools are also expected to get extra funds for administration of day-to-day activities.

The Kenya Kwanza administration will give a flat-rate fund— varying on the level of school— that will be referred to as a minimum essential package.

The essential package will be distributed as follows: Sh70,200 for pre-primary, Sh536,880 for primary education, Sh1,632,120 for junior school, Sh1,890,000 for senior school and Sh2,060,940 for special needs education.

This means, a comprehensive school will get a cumulative Sh2,239,200 as the minimum essential package.

Teacher shortage

To address the chronic challenge of teacher shortage in the country, the Kenya Kwanza administration has in the last one year employed 35,790 teachers.

Out of which 1000 were employed in primary schools on permanent and pensionable terms, 3,986 interns in primary schools, 9,000 employed to junior secondary school on permanent and pensionable terms.

Another 21,365 put on internship contracts to junior school and 439 as interns to secondary schools under 8-4-4.

This marks a significant change from the Uhuru Kenyatta administration, where the government employed teachers at the rate of 5,000 tutors annually.

“For the first time, the government has employed 35,000 teachers this year; no other government has employed such a number of teachers other than this government. This year before August, we will employ an additional 25,000 teachers so that every child in Kenya gets the opportunity to go to school,” President William Ruto said in July.

Financing Universities

Under his education plan, President Ruto also marked a departure from the 32-year-old university funding model.

The withdrawn funding model funded students based on the course they took and the government ideally would be supposed to take care of 70 per cent of the fees while loans and direct fees paid by parents would cater for the remaining 30 percent of the fees.

However, due to funding challenges the government was not sending the full quote of funds per student.

This as a result nose-dived the institutions to debts; at the time of Uhuru Kenyatta’s exit, the institutions were wallowing in Sh61 billion debt.

To address this, Dr. Ruto announced the new funding formula in May; and will first be effected for new university entrants in September.

According to University Funding Board chief executive Geoffrey Monari, the change in funding would stop any further increase in debt.

He noted that the government this financial year increased Sh20 billion to the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) to facilitate the funding changes.

The university funding board has been allocated Sh15.9 billion for the new model.

Part of this funds, Monari said, will be used to pay the underlying debt.

Under the new funding formula, the students will receive financial aid based on their level of need and these are; vulnerable, extremely needy, needy and less needy. The government says that those categorized as vulnerable or extremely needy—those considered to be the neediest—will be exempted from paying any direct fees; instead, the government will pay their dues through government scholarships and a student loan that is payable after they get a job.

Their counterparts—classified as needy and less needy—however, will need to pay a minimal cost for direct fees.

The President also discontinued the eight-year placement of government sponsored students to private universities started by former President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Moving forward, students who seek to join private universities will have to pay their own fees; however, they will benefit from student loans by the Higher Education Loans Board.

On July 31, President William Ruto also awarded a charter to the stalled Open University of Kenya.

The first cohort will be admitted in September.