Secondary school headteachers are worried that they may not have enough time to prepare candidates for this year’s national examinations because of the Ministry of Education’s failure to release funds meant for third term.
The exams are scheduled to begin next month, with the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination set for October 21 — November 27.
Candidates will be examined on French, German, Arabic, Kenya Sign Language and Music practicals between Monday, October 21 and Friday, October 25. Rehearsals will be done on November 1.
Chemistry practicals will be done on November 8, biology practicals on November 15 while physics practicals will be conducted on November 26. The government is expected to release about Sh10 billion to both primary and secondary schools this term.
But by Tuesday, the ministry had not released the funds. Basic Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang’ did not answer our calls on when the funds will be released.
The resource flow from the National Treasury has been in the ratio of 50:30:20 for the three school terms. Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association chairman Kahi Indimuli said public schools are in a financial crisis and are unable to run smoothly because of huge fee balances amounting to millions owed by parents and delayed free education cash. Schools desperately need the money to buy chemicals and exam practical apparatus.
“We are asking the ministry to release these funds to enable schools buy the necessary chemicals and specimens early enough,” he said
In January, the government released Sh36 billion — Sh30 billion to public secondary schools and Sh6 billion to primary schools.
In the second term, Sh29 billion was released to schools. The government releases the funds based on the total number of learners in school in a year.
In May, the government released Sh14.5 billion to public primary and secondary schools, being 50 per cent of the capitation for the term. The other half was released in August after schools were closed.
“As at now, that money is not in school bank accounts as we spent it in paying our suppliers, hoping that the ministry will release funds meant for third term before schools open today (Tuesday),” said Mr Indimuli. The cash crunch has hit schools hard and the situation could deteriorate further if the ministry fails to release the funds this week.
“Every year we have been facing a challenge in funding,” said Mr Indimuli, adding that due to the financial state, most schools had not paid staff salaries for up to two months, while some creditors have threatened to withdraw supplies this term.
Principals who spoke to the Nation lamented the sorry situation and urged the government to come up with a proper system of ensuring that schools receive funds on time. “Right now schools have no funds, we hope the ministry releases the funds before next week to enable us prepare for the national exams,” said a principal in Nyeri.
Another principal from a day secondary school in Samburu County said his school depends on the ministry funds to buy apparatus. A secondary school headteacher in Kiambu said he has not paid salaries for four teachers hired by the board of management since July.
Many dealers have also stopped supplies on credit owing to long delays in payment; they are demanding cash upfront.
“If the money is not released to us soon, we are going to have problems buying laboratory equipment in time for the science practicals, which begin next month,” he said.
The Nation has also learnt that a majority of public schools have fee arrears ranging from Sh5 million to as high as Sh20 million.
The most affected are boarding schools, where parents are required by the government to pay a percentage to cater for their food. A principal from a boys’ school in Murang’a County said the school has fee arrears of Sh13 million. The government introduced the free secondary school education last year.
For the free day secondary education, all leaners receive Sh22,244 per annum. Parents are not required to pay any extra fees for the day scholars.
For category A schools, which are national schools and extra-county schools in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nyeri, Thika and Eldoret, the government will provide Sh22,244 while parents are required to pay Sh53,554, making a total of Sh75,798 per year.
Category B boarding schools and extra-country schools in other areas will receive Sh22,244 from the government with parents paying Sh40,535, making a total of Sh62,779 a year.
Parents with children in special needs secondary schools pay Sh12,790 with the government footing Sh57,974 annually.
Kessha has already written a proposal to the ministry, asking to increase fees paid by parents.
The principals want extra-county schools to pay Sh17,000 more and day schools to pay Sh6,000 more. Those in county schools will pay Sh7,537 more. Mr Indimuli said this will help solve the financial crisis in schools.