Azimio MPs ask government to release Sh52.8 billion owed to public schools

National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

 Azimio La Umoja MPs have asked the government to immediately release Sh52.8 billion owed to Free Day School Education funds, dating back to the year 2021.

 The legislators who addressed journalists in the Parliament building said that the failure to remit these funds is testament enough to the lack of commitment by the government to the future of this country’s school-going children.

 National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi said that it was a matter of great concern that the funds are yet to be remitted to schools for form-one students in secondary schools, whose first term is set to come to an end in a matter of weeks.

 “The Ministry of Education once again announced that it will release funds to schools next week; we have lost count of the numerous times such promises have been made since the Kenya Kwanza regime took over. This is turning out to be a game of lies; managing the public on the one hand, while setting up school heads for failure, which the Ministry of Education has perfected,” said Wandayi.

 The Ugunja MP said that no plausible reason has been given as to why funds that should have been disbursed earlier on in the term are only being disbursed towards the end of the term, and that it was for this reason that they believe that the Ministry of Education is setting up school heads for ridicule, failure, and blame. In the process, our children are collateral.

 Wandayi said that whenever the Ministry of Education has come under pressure over the disbursement of funds to schools, they assemble the media, put together some figures, and announce that the money will be released the following week. Most times, it never gets done, and when it is done, it is never sufficient.

 The Ugunja MP said that even if it were to be actualized, what the Ministry announced yesterday would amount to a mere 25 per cent of the money owed to schools, with these funds coming too little, too late, and that it was high time it honored its obligation to ensure that learning in schools went on smoothly.

 “Whenever the Ministry announces the release of funds, suppliers flood schools, students make demands, and the Parents Teachers Association assumes all is well, regardless of how small the amount released is or whether it actually ever gets released,” said Wandayi.

 The Ugunja MP said the Ministry of Education is running the critical sector by setting up principals for failure and then lying to learners and parents, saying this must stop and that they were out to call out the government on the lies that have now crippled schools.

 The National Assembly Minority Leader said that this has exposed otherwise innocent principals and teachers to the wrath of parents and learners who buy into government lies that funds have been released to schools and other learning institutions.

  “The casualties are none other than the millions of Kenyan learners who are staring at a bleak future. To say that schools are struggling because of acute financial problems is a serious understatement. It is nothing short of a miracle that the schools are open and running,” said Wandayi.

 He said that feeding the students is an uphill task for the school administrators, and for some schools, it is just a matter of time before there is student unrest due to hunger.

  In a bid to make ends meet, some schools have resorted to either increasing boarding fees, food rationing, or changing the students’ menus altogether to make ends meet.

 Wandayi said that the situation is very dire, as for the first time since 2005, parents have been left with no choice but to buy exercise books for their children, with a number of schools contemplating closing school earlier than scheduled and doing away with end-of-term tests because they can no longer afford basics like stationery.

 Kitui Central MP Makali Mulu said that some school administrators admit that they are forced to play hide and seek with school suppliers who constantly and rightfully demand payments from these schools. In other cases, schools have resorted to slashing budgets for extracurricular activities.

 Mulu said that the net effect of all these happenings is that schools will resort to the provision of compromised basic education, which will have incalculable ramifications on standards of education in Kenya and the future of Kenyan children.

 “In fact, the impact of this unfortunate turn of events is already being felt across the country in the form of mass failures. In last year's KCSE, for instance, over 49,000 candidates scored grade E. Grade E is normally scored between scores of 0 to 5 marks,” said Mulu.

 The Azimio MPs said the trend of increasing failure rates in high school has persisted for the last three years, with 2023 being the worst-performing KCSE examination in the recent past, with the Ministry silent about this because they know poor funding is a key contributor to such mass failures.

 The legislators raised concerns that amid all the chaos in the education sector, the government is still not transparent about this matter and has resorted to open lies on this matter, and that in the current financial year, 2023/2024, schools have received only Kshs 7,348 out of the required total of Sh 22,244 per learner per annum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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