Kenya: Schools in Trouble As Ministry Delays Release of Sh15 Billion

Public primary and secondary schools are facing a financial crisis just a week after they reopened. This is after the government delayed releasing Sh15 billion meant for the schools.

School heads who spoke to the Sunday Nation yesterday said creditors are on their necks demanding to be paid for foodstuffs and other items supplied to the institutions last term and before schools reopened on Monday.

The heads also said they have not been able to pay non-teaching staff and some have accumulated salary arrears since last year because the government has been underfunding the institutions.

Kenya Primary Schools Heads Association (Kepsha) chairman Johnson Nzioka said for the more than 23,000 public primary schools, the situation is worrying since they entirely depend on government funding.

"Primary schools have not received any funds so far since reopening yet we are expected to ensure that the Covid-19 protocols are observed in schools," said Mr Nzioka. Some schools that do not have running water, Mr Nzioka said, have been forced to ask parents to step in for the safety of the children.

Capitation per child

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha last week promised that the government will release a total of Sh15.8 billion to schools by Friday. Secondary schools were to receive Sh13 billion and primary schools Sh2.8 billion.

However, the school heads said the money has not reflected in the schools' accounts.

Mr Nzioka further said that despite primary schools asking the government to revise the capitation per child from the current Sh1,420 to Sh 8,077 annually, they are yet to receive a response from the Ministry.

When contacted, Basic Education Principal secretary Dr Julius Jwan did not answer our calls nor reply to text messages sent to him

The financial crisis is also biting in secondary schools, with some sending students with fees arrears home.

Fee balances

Mr Martin Oloo, a parent whose daughter is in Form Two at Embakasi Girls in Nairobi, said his daughter was not allowed to report because of fee balances.

"We travelled from Kisumu to Nairobi last week to ensure the girl reports to school but she was turned back on arrival as she has a fee balance of more than Sh65, 000," said Mr Oloo

Butere Boys sent a message to parents asking them to clear their children's school fees ahead of reopening last week.

"We remind you of your utmost responsibility of paying fees. The school will not allow any student in school who owes school fees and fees arrears. We are insisting on zero fees balance," read part of the text message.

The principal of a secondary school in Kisii told the Sunday Nation that the institutions are facing a financial crisis and are unable to meet their monthly financial obligations. He said in most schools, non-teaching staff members such as matrons, cooks and watchmen were sent home and only a few are working as schools are unable to pay them.

"The Ministry should be releasing funds before schools open to enable them to manage and run operations," said the principal.

The Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (Kessha) chairman Kahi Indimuli was not available for comment yesterday.

Special Schools Heads Association of Kenya (SSHAK) chairman Peter Sitienei echoed other heads' call for the release of the funds. He said operations in the schools have been paralysed.

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