Machogu promises to restore full capitation after principals' outcry

Education CS Ezekiel Machogu during the release of the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education results in January. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

Secondary school head teachers can now breathe easy as students return to school from midterm break after the Ministry of Education revealed plans to restore Sh5000 slashed from each student’s capitation funding.

Education CS Ezekiel Machogu admitted that the amount provided for the free day secondary programme of 22,244 had shrunk to about Sh17,000.

"We had gone down to Sh17,000 per year because of the very tight fiscal space we are operating in and the economic constraints but I think now the economy is improving and we should be able to get the figures which should be given to each and every student which is Sh22,244," the CS said during a stakeholders forum to discuss changes in laws governing the education sector at the Kenya Institute of Special Education, Nairobi.

This means schools have been getting Sh5,000 less for capitation each year, revelations that vindicate secondary headteachers who in November last year petitioned Parliament to intervene and help in collecting a debt of Sh54 billion owed to the schools for a five-year period.

In their petition, the Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (Kessha) indicated that the Ministry of Education was providing Sh17,458 capitation per student.

Kessha noted that in 2019, the government did not send Sh3,167,804,931 of the total capitation to secondary schools.

In the subsequent years, the funding deficit has only worsened, with institutions not receiving Sh16,982,119,448 in the 2020/2021 financial year, averaging about Sh5,000 deficit per child.

In the 2021/2022 financial year, the amount owed is Sh15,968,967,196 or approximately Sh4,451 for each student not sent to school.

The biggest deficit was witnessed in the 2022/2023 financial year, when the total amount owed hit Sh18,101,294,280, representing Sh4,905 per child. 

Basic Education PS Belio Kipsang and Education CS Ezekiel Machogu (right) confer during the release of KCSE results in 2024. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

This collectively, amounts to Sh54,220,185,855.

According to the petition by head teachers, the funding problem is further worsened by the deductions done on the funds received by the school.

The petition indicates that the ministry retains an average of Sh1,978 per student for the school medical cover. This effectively reduces the funding to an average of Sh15,479.36.

The head teachers are also required to set aside Sh5,000 per child for the infrastructure fund. This leaves them with a mere Sh10,479.37 per child to cover operational expenses within their institutions.

In their recommendation, the head teachers demand the vacation of the directive to retain infrastructure funds from capitation. 

“As a result of underfunding, accrued deficits, and the requirement to retain an infrastructure fund that cannot be utilised for school operations, these schools are facing significant financial difficulties,” the petition reads.

In September last year, Machogu admitted a funding gap of about Sh22 billion for Free Day Secondary Education.

In a meeting with members of the National Assembly Committee on Education, the CS said the current secondary school population is 3.9 million learners against an available budget of Sh65 billion this financial year.

He said that this amount is below the approved Sh22,240 per learner, leaving a funding deficit of Sh22 billion.

Machogu also warned that the situation could get worse as the number of learners in secondary schools is expected to increase by more than 240,000 next year.

“Next year, we project that the enrollment will be 4.2 million learners. If the funding remains as it is, the capitation will reduce to Sh15,476 per learner,” he said.

The CS who was accompanied by Principal Secretary, Belio Kipsang, made the remarks when he appeared before the MPs to respond to questions on capitation and other issues under his docket.

“We must be able to address how we deal with the Sh22 billion that is underfunded. So until we are able to adequately deal with the question of under funding so that we can take the capitation to 100 per cent of what is required then the challenge with capitation will persist,” he warned.