Azimio slams state over funding crisis in education sector

Minority leader Opiyo Wandayi at the KICC, Nairobi. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Opposition leaders yesterday hit out at the government over the crisis in the education sector due to insufficient funding.

Speaking in Nairobi, National Assembly Minority Leader, Opiyo Wandayi painted a grim picture of the education sector's financial woes, claiming that the government's empty promises are pushing it to the brink of collapse.

"Yesterday, 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," Wandayi lamented.

On Monday, Basic Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang attributed funding challenges plaguing the education sector to a fixed allocation of Sh54 billion from the government, intended for 3.2 million students. However, with actual enrollment at 4.2 million students, the discrepancy exacerbates the financial strain on institutions.

The PS further stated that the financial pressures have forced the ministry to reduce capitation from Sh22,224 to about Sh17,000.

Accusing the Ministry of Education of orchestrating a game of deception, the Minority Leader asserted that the repeated promises of financial support serve only to mislead the public while leaving school heads ill-equipped to fulfill their obligations.

The delayed disbursement of funds, particularly towards the end of the term, has left administrators scrambling to manage dwindling resources, with no plausible explanation provided by the ministry.

According to the October 2023 report by the Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (Kessha), the Ministry of Education had accumulated a debt of Sh54 billion by the end of 2023, a figure that is still rising.

Wandayi argues that the Ministry tends to resort to media spectacle to placate public outcry only to fall short of delivering on its commitments. Even when funds are eventually released, they often amount to a fraction of what is owed to schools, arriving too late to address urgent needs.

He regretted that the repercussions of the funding crisis are felt acutely by students, parents, and teachers alike. Many schools have been forced to turn to drastic measures, including rationing food, slashing extracurricular budgets, and even contemplating early closure due to an inability to afford necessities.

"The casualties are none other than the millions of Kenyan learners who are staring at a bleak future," said Wandayi

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

Wandayi is now calling for immediate action to release the outstanding funds owed to schools and revise the capitation amounts to reflect current economic realities.

In November last year, secondary school head teachers appealed to Parliament to intervene over the staggering debt of Sh54 billion owed to schools over a five-year period.

In their petition, Kessha said that the Ministry of Education provided a capitation of Sh17,458 per student. Shockingly, in 2019, schools were deprived of Sh3.1 billion in capitation funds.

The funding deficit worsened in subsequent years, with institutions missing out on Sh16,982,119,448 in the 2020/2021 financial year, averaging approximately Sh5,000 per student.

By the 2021/2022 financial year, the shortfall amounted to Sh15,968,967,196, translating to a deficit of around Sh4,451 per student.

The most alarming deficit occurred in the 2022/2023 financial year, reaching a staggering Sh18,101,294,280, representing approximately Sh4,905 per child.

It is against this background that Wandayi has accused President Ruto’s administration of rolling back on free primary education and has now made education a burden to parents.

“We are challenging the Kenya Kwanza regime to come out and tell Kenyans whether it has done away with Free Primary and Free Secondary Education because from the look of things, this seems to be the case,” he said.

The MP called on parents and teachers to speak up and not “cover up for the government.”

“Kenya Kwanza must own up to the mess that is in the education sector and do what is right for our children and our hard-working teachers.”

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