Winstone Chiseremi and Josephat Kinyua
Delayed disbursement of Free Primary Education and Free Secondary Education funds to public schools by the national government has crippled activities in many institutions countrywide.
Even though many schools confirmed the funds were finally credited to their bank accounts by last weekend, headteachers in some remote areas complained no money had been received. However, teachers’ unions officials in Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa, and Nakuru confirmed the funds arrived late last week.
For instance, the majority of public primary schools in North Rift region are facing a cash crunch in managing their activities due to slow disbursement of funds by the Ministry of Education. The worst hit are schools situated in far-flung areas in banditry-ravaged counties of West Pokot, Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet and Turkana, which have been forced to withdraw pupils from taking part in ongoing second term sporting activities.
The affected institutions include Sambalat, Liter, Sangach and Chebilil. These schools are situated along the banditry-prone borders of Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo and Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot counties.
Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) officials in the North Rift region claimed some institutions in the area had not received the second term tranche of funds to effectively carry out school programmes.
Josephat Serem, a Knut National Executive Council (NEC) member for Rift Valley, accused the Education ministry of failure to honour its commitment to disburse funds during school holidays as promised earlier. “The delay has disrupted activities such as second-term sports (soccer, volleyball and handball for both boys and girls) and music,” said Serem, who is also Nandi North Knut Secretary.
John Boor, executive secretary Wareng Branch in Uasin Gishu, has urged the State to be releasing funds on time to ensure smooth flow of education programmes. He said there was no way the public school headteachers can ask parents to contribute money to meet some of the educational activities since such levies were outlawed by the government.
“Free education funds should have been received at the beginning of the term but by Wednesday last week, headteachers in my branch have found nothing deposited in their respective school accounts,” said Boor.
Meanwhile, more than 200 secondary schools in Nyeri county are running on debts following delays in receiving capitation funds. Nyeri county Knut executive Patrick Mwangi Maina said so far, the ministry has released Sh2,000 for each student out of the Sh6,000 promised.
“Most of our principals are running institutions on borrowed resources due to the anomaly. The schools have been unable to pay workers and suppliers; it’s high time these delays stopped,” said Maina.
An Education ministry official in Nairobi intimated that some headteachers have been filing exaggerated figures of student populations and when discovered, all money previously paid for the excess students is recovered.
“They might be complaining because they received less money than they had budgeted for,” he said. Another issue cited for causing delays is confusion in bank account numbers and details.