Ensure timely release of school capitation in 2024

A CBC teacher Alexie Muzame assisting PP2 students during a learning session at their institution on October 2, 2023. [Benjamin Sakwa,  Standard]

Schools are set to open on January 8, 2024, after slightly more than two months of holiday. No doubt, the prospects have begun to fill parents with trepidation, especially because of mounting pressure to raise school fees amid a serious economic slump, and an unprecedented high cost of living that has left many bewildered.

The government’s inability to release capitation funds on time only compounds an already worse situation. Unfortunately, the situation will become a major headache as a high number of students are set to join Form One in 2024. 

Recently, Basic Education PS Belio Kipsang admitted the current infrastructure in schools will not be able to support expected numbers. According to Education Ministry data, the current enrollment in public secondary schools is 3,858,836, yet at least 1.4 million students are expected to join Form One in 2024.

This year, late capitation compelled some schools to pass the burden on to parents who can barely meet the cost, yet schools must run seamlessly. On paper, education is free in Kenya, but the reality is that education is anything else but free. 

On several occasions, the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) has pleaded with the government to increase capitation from Sh1,420 to Sh4,000 (primary) and Sh22,244 to Sh35,000 (secondary) and disburse the funds promptly that facilitates the smooth running of schools. Sadly, this plea has often fallen on deaf ears.

Both Knut and the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms have proposed an increase in capitation. Unfortunately, there are growing concerns that the government could renege on its part of the bargain and fail to remit capitation, thus setting parents and school management on a collision course over fee increments. Were that to happen, the fear is that many of the students set to join Form One will miss out, which is an infringement of their right to education.

The government must do what is right by funding education, perhaps the most critical sector of society on which everything else hinges. Avenues of corruption through which funds are lost should be sealed to make funding education possible.

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