Funding Woes Threaten School Closure: Kenyan Education System in Crisis

The recent school financial turbulence in Kenya has left many wondering whether the situation is almost coming to a salvageable position or worsening, and is coming barely a week after the Ministry of Education gave promises that it had dispatched huge sums of money to learning institutions.

Only last week, Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu had told the nation that huge monies had been dispatched to schools. And one week later, school heads have different tales of the same. Some are complaining that the money is way too little to run a school, while others say they have not received a single penny. This has thrown schools into a state of confusion over their financial operations.

Indimuli Kahi, chairperson of the Kenya Secondary School Heads Association, validated the teachers’ frustrations. Despite the assurances and budget allocations from the Ministry of Education, the schools have made do with funds that are a far cry from their expectations, and this has in turn overworked them to seek normalcy under constrained conditions.

The most recent pronouncements by Secretary Machogu, backed by what he says is a robust document, showed that money had been released for the first quarter of the fiscal year 2022-2023 and first semester of the 2023 academic year. But where this money is can now barely be explained, and as such, there is a general sense of mistrust and confusion like one finds themselves in an adult hide-and-seek game.

In response to the confusion, Machogu said he will specifically investigate the problem with the national treasury. He then offered to do things differently in the next fiscal year, citing a new disbursement approach that promises to have a 50-30-20 mechanism, which will guarantee consistent, predictable funding to education institutions.

While the Ministry of Education purports to be disbursing an average of 24 billion Kenyan shillings to schools, it has warned teachers against sending learners home over unpaid fees. That this directive comes at a time when schools are receiving late and inadequate funding, thereby disrupting the normal operations such as the academic calendar, is an irony of sorts. The situation is more like running a race with tied-up shoelaces, far from the most apropriate to give room for educational growth.

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