Education sector braces for impact as budget cuts loom

Budget briefcase during the reading of Budget Highlights at Parliament on June 15, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The decision by President William Ruto to drop the Finance Bill 2024 has cast a shadow over Kenya’s education sector.

The warning also came from Treasury CS Njuguna Ndung'u that Sh200 billion cuts threaten to derail crucial projects and initiatives that aim to provide a better learning environment for children and secure the future of education in the country.

For many, this situation underscores the urgent need for sustainable funding solutions to ensure that no child’s education is compromised due to financial constraints

"I concede, I will not sign the 2024 Finance Bill, the bill to be withdrawn," Ruto said.

And it is now emerging that this signifies a significant shift in his stance on education funding. This move leaves many education projects and initiatives in uncertainty.

Initially, the government planned substantial allocations for various education-related projects: Sh800 million for ongoing TVETs and TTIs projects, Sh2.1 billion for the Differentiated Unit Cost model in universities, Sh3.2 billion for the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB), Sh3.0 billion for university infrastructure projects, Sh1.6 billion for primary and secondary school infrastructure, and Sh1.8 billion for the school feeding program.

However, the proposed budget reductions, necessitated by the amendments to the now-withdrawn Appropriations Finance Bill 2024, have put these plans at risk.

"Part of the money we were going to raise from the Finance Bill was Sh10 billion for fertilizer subsidies, Sh18 billion for confirming 46,000 Junior Secondary School teachers to a Permanent and Pensionable basis," said President Ruto.

The President also highlighted that the hiring of 20,000 new interns and converting 26,000 existing interns to permanent positions is now in jeopardy.

"Education being the greatest equalizer, no child in Kenya should go to a school where there are no adequate teachers. In this Bill, we had committed to hiring an extra 20,000 teachers," Ruto said.

Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro warned of the dire consequences if the Bill is not passed.

"If the Finance Bill does not pass, teachers will be the first casualty as the TSC will lose Sh18 billion in the appropriation. State House is facing a Sh500 million cut, the Office of the President another Sh500 million, Security a Sh7.75 billion cut, and JSS teachers will not be employed permanently. MPs who voted against it should explain to Kenyans," Nyoro stated.