Ministry cuts school capitation by Sh22b despite surge in enrolment

Education CS Ezekiel Machogu consults with Basic Education PS Belio Kipsang during a past event. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

The Ministry of Education says it has cut school capitation under the Free Secondary Education programme by about Sh5,000 per student.

The ministry on Monday acknowledged it was facing a Sh22 billion shortfall, attributed to stagnant funding for the last six years despite a surging student population. 

Basic Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang revealed that the government has been providing a flat rate of Sh54 billion for capitation over the last six years.

The current funding allocation, according to Kipsang, can only fully cater for 3.2 million students, a stark contrast to the actual enrollment of 4.2 million.

Blanket figure

“We get a blanket figure of Sh54 billion which if we provide the full capitation amount can only cater for 3.2 million learners but the number of students currently stands at 4.2 million learners,” Kipsang said while appearing before the Public Accounts Committee in the National Assembly.

To bridge the gap, the ministry has resorted to reducing the capitation amount per student, impacting schools’ ability to provide essential resources like learning materials and proper nutrition.

The PS said the ministry has been forced to shrink the amount provided as capitation from Sh22,224 to about Sh17,000.

However the PS indicated that the exit of the 2024 KCSE candidates in November and Form One admission break in 2025 will see the secondary school funding crisis drop from the current Sh22 billion to about Sh11 billion.

“Remember we shall not be having a Form One class so the under-funding will go down to about Sh11 billion and that is what the Education committee is trying to ensure is taken care of in this 2024/2025 financial year,’’ Kipsang said.

He also indicated that the remaining deficit will be provided under the  2024/2025 budget allocation following consultations with the Education committee.

“This year with our Education committee, there was quite a good engagement and the indication is that we will be able to fund as per capitation, that is Sh22,224,” he said.

However, contrary to concerns raised by to the school heads, Kipsang argued that the funding in its current form was enough to fund most teaching and learning activities in schools.

“But to a large extent chair, the amount that we are funding our schools with still takes care of the needs of the school in tuition-related activities,” Kipsang said.

The PS appeared before the committee days after head teachers raised concern over delayed capitation, three weeks before the closure of schools on April 5.

School heads last week lamented about a potential crisis, noting the government had only provided half the capitation funds for Term One.

The PS said the ministry will disburse Sh16.25 billion owed to public secondary schools within the next 10 days.

Kipsang disclosed that the government has allocated Sh65 billion for capitation this year, with 25 per cent of this amount already released.

In November, head teachers petitioned Parliament to 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 the Ministry of Education was providing only Sh17,458 capitation per student.

According to Kessha, in 2019 alone, 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 student.

In the 2021/2022 financial year, the amount owed was Sh15,968,967,196 or approximately Sh4,451 for each student.

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

Presidential working party

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

MPs further questioned the ministry’s ineptness in curbing illegal fees and extra levies in schools.

However, Kipsang assured that plans are underway to put in place legislation that will help the ministry rein in rogue school heads charging illegal fees.

The PS said the ministry has prepared Bills in line with reform recommendations by the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms.

“The presidential working party gave some recommendations. We have done 14 Bills that will come to the House and some of these Bills will try and guide on how the enforcement will be done,” said Kipsang.

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