Why Education ministry's budget should be increased

Submerged Oseth Primary School at Agoro village in Nyando. [Michael Mute, Standard]

In the 2023/2024 Financial Year, the education sector received the second largest share of the government expenditure, with the government increasing its allocation to the sector by 15.5 per cent to Sh628.6 billion from Sh544.4 billion in FY'2022/2023. The allocation represented 4.3 per cent of the GDP, up from 4.0 per cent of GDP in Financial Year 2022/2023.

We urge that this amount be increased further in the 2024/2025 budget due to several factors. There has been increased enrolment in both early childhood development education, primary and secondary schools. The increase was necessitated by the 100 per cent transition policy.

The policy is in line with Sustainable Development Goal 4 which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. This is supported by the African 50-year’s agenda of eliminating illiteracy by 2067 in order to improve people’s livelihoods through education and industrialisation.

Due to the increased enrollment, there will be to increased work load and hence the need to employ more teachers. According to TSC, there was shortage of 116,000 teachers by September 2022. The government has since 56,000 teachers, 10,000 of them were on permanent and pensionable terms. The rest (46,000 teachers) were engaged as intern.

The 46,000 intern teachers were meant to be a stop gap measure as the government sources funds to have them employed on better terms. Our prayer is that government should hire them on permanent terms as soon as possible and employ more teachers to end the existing shortage. Knut looks forward to a budgetary allocation for the same.

As a result of the increased enrollment of learners, the government also need to expanded school infrastructure. At the advent of CBC and the 100 per cent transition policy, the government constructed one more classroom in public secondary schools even before the debate on domiciling grades 7, 8 and 9 was settled. These classes were, however, not a mistake as they were occupied by learners in the same schools.

So as Grade 8 students proceed to Grade 9 in 2025, it is important for the government to build classes for Grade 9. An estimated 24,000 classrooms need to be urgently constructed by the end of this year. And this is just one aspect of infrastructure. More in terms of libraries, laboratories, dining halls and dormitories should be constructed to accommodate the swelling numbers of learners in schools.

As a result of the change of the curriculum from 8-4-4 to CBC, which is still in progress, there is need to buy modern teaching and learning materials due to the new digital learning aspect. Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development is currently developing and publishing instructional materials. This is because, most of materials, that have been used in the old curriculum, have outlived their usefulness and new ones are needed.

For teachers to handle the new curriculum well, the employer and the mother ministry need to build their (tutors) capacities to embrace new teaching methods and pedagogies. Most teachers, including in junior secondary schools, are teaching in areas that they are not well trained in. It is therefore important for TSC and the Education ministry to align the training areas of these teachers to conform to the current teaching subjects. The TSC programme of tooling and retooling is addressing this need, but the employer needs to be capacitated more by being allocated sufficient funds.

With all these in place, teachers also need to be motivated so as to give quality education. With the current CBA cycle ending in June 2025 and in view of the increased cost of living. The employer must be equipped with incentives in terms of a salary increment to teachers, good enough to cushion them from the high inflation.

It should be remembered that the 2021 – 2025 CBA was initially cashless but Knut’s interventions in 2023 led to a small increment of between 7.4 per cent to 9.7 per cent spread into two phases. This was welcome although it was not enough. The union is looking forward to a robust negotiation process through an established CBA Framework for the 2025 – 2029 cycle based on a reviewed job evaluation that will address teacher’s better salary awards.

We look forward to the government allocating the education sector more funds in the 2024/2025 budget for repair or construction of classrooms and other school infrastructure destroyed by the recent floods. Although the Ministry of Education has not assessed fully the damage caused by the floods, we estimate that the cost could reach as high as Sh1 billion.

The union also looks forward to having a budget with a ‘human face’ that will see the continuation of the school feeding programme and Edu afya, the schools' insurance scheme.