Failure to disburse funds for free learning hurting schools

The latest revelation that public schools have not received free learning funds, three weeks after reopening, is disheartening. Last year, the Ministry of Education promised school heads that the money would be deposited in their school accounts by December 2018. Unfortunately, the promise was not fulfilled and schools are facing severe financial crisis.

According to the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education (Kuppet) and Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut), many public schools are operating on a shoestring budget. Principals are unable to run schools due to failure by the Government to remit the funds for this term.

Regrettably, since introduction of Free Primary Education and Subsidized Secondary Education, disbursement of funds has lacked consistency of 50 per cent, 30 per cent, 20 per cent for first term, second term and third term respectively.

Epileptic disbursement has caused untold suffering to suppliers, subordinate staff, BoM teachers, learners, administrators and coordinators of extra-curricular activities. Worse still, the Government has never considered increasing the allocations despite the astronomical rise in the cost of living and inflationary changes.

With introduction of Value Added Tax on books and newspapers with effect from September 1, 2013 and other commodities in the 2018/2019 budget, the Government ought to increase the allocation pro rata. Statistics indicate that 873,462 out of 1,052,364 candidates who sat the 2018 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exam have been admitted to secondary school, which translate to 83 per cent.

Meanwhile, in as much as the Government wants to achieve 100 per cent transition to secondary school, the glaring shortage of teachers in many public schools continue to profoundly affect performance in national exams.

The Government must up its game by employing more teachers to cater for increased enrolment of students. Government failure to disburse the funds on time will also hurt the newly introduced Competency-Based Curriculum.

In summary, sustainable disbursement of free learning funds must be maintained or else the Big Four Agenda and Vision 2030 will become a mirage. The time to walk the talk is now.