Growing population hikes education budget – State

Monday, January 20th, 2020 00:00 | By

The Ministry of Education plans to spend Sh647.7 billion per year in the next three financial years. 

Under the governments three year planning period called the Medium Term Expenditure Framework -MTEF- the ministry is requesting Treasury for Sh598.2 billion for recurrent expenditure and sh49.4 billion for development expenditure per year for the next three years.

This is against an allocation of Sh498.8 billion of which recurrent is Sh487.8 billion and development is Sh11.02 billion, implying the  sector has a resource gap of Sh129.2 billion out of which Sh91.9 billion is recurrent and Sh37. 2 billion development.

MTEF sets out the medium-term expenditure priorities and budget constraints against which the sector’s plans can be developed and refined. 

“To ensure that the sector realises its mandate, there is need to increase budgetary allocations.

The increase in funding will be geared towards addressing the challenges and emerging issues that affect the performance of the sector,” says Kevit Desai, chairman of the education sector-working group (SWG) and outgoing Principal Secretary, Vocational and Technical Training (VTT).  

Form One students, escorted report at Moi Girls Eldoret, last week. 

The group presented its views to education stakeholders during a public debate on Tuesday last week.

The stakeholders’ views will be incorporated in the SWG compilation, with the final document forming the basis of budgetary allocation to the ministry by the National Treasury in the 2020/21 financial year. 

The ministry admits it is grappling with several challenges that require urgent financing, including inadequate infrastructure and human resources, weak linkages between training and the job market and funding challenges.

There is also radicalisation of students and insecurity, obsolete equipment, fragmented policy, legal and institutional frameworks, enforcement of teaching standards and teacher professionalism and integrity, among others.

Desai says in the next three years, priority will be given to curriculum reforms, technical trainer management, the implementation of Kenya National Qualification Framework (KNQF) and capitation in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).

Infrastructure woes 

Other areas where the funding will be directed to are trainer professional development, the ongoing capital projects in universities and development of policy, institutional and legal frameworks, establishment of the Kenya National Skills Development Council (KNSDC) as well as implementation a National Apprenticeship programme.   

Andiwo Obondoh, an education expert working as a technical advisor with the Regional Education and Learning Institute Africa (RELI) told Scholar  that what is important is how the ministry will address the persisting problems of student bursaries, infrastructure, students-to-teacher ratios and the curriculum.

“We need a long-term plan, for instance showing us how many classes the State will build in the next three years to accommodate the number of students joining secondary schools,” he said.

While releasing the 2019 Kenya Certificate of Primary Examination (KCPE) exam results in December, Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha said the government will partner with education stakeholders to provide 9,000 scholarships to support students from low-income families.

However, thousands of deserving but needy students are unable to secure the bursaries.  Obondoh reckons the cause is either a wrong way of issuing bursaries or money being allocated to undeserving cases.

“Recently, we saw in the press well-wishers help a determined Form One student, who, despite scoring 390 marks in KCPE and being admitted to Kakamega High School, had trekked from Nandi to the school without fees. Another student also walked from Busia to Maseno School,” he said.

 According to Obondoh, the 100 per cent transition to secondary school has created infrastructural and teacher-to-student ratio crisis, without corresponding investments in facilities to comfortably accommodate surging student enrolment.  

“How many classrooms, laboratories, dormitories, libraries and teachers homes have been constructed?  he posed. 

 Sector players estimate that in public primary schools, the ratio of students to teachers is one to 60/100, while in secondary school; it stands at one to 40/50 against the regional standard of one to 40.

“Besides, we need to hire more teachers to bridge the gap, with current statistics place at 80,000. This is what the long-term strategy, the MTEF plan, should be looking at,”  he added.  

Teacher shortages 

To address this imbalance, secondary schools have resorted to hiring non-TSC teacher an arrangement that Obondoh says is not sustainable and compromises quality.

TSC CEO Nancy Macharia says the commission has recruited 5,000 secondary teachers and is recruiting 10,000 interns to address the shortage.   

“We cannot sustain the quality of education by letting parents take responsibility for teachers. How many times have we heard of the non-TSC teachers walking away from schools?” asked Obondoh.

Desai insists the achievements are evidenced by increased enrolments, a pupil - book ratio of 1:1, pupil-teacher ratio of 40:1, expanded and improved infrastructure, increased number of education and training institutions, roll-out of a Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) and Competency-Based Education and Training (CBET), and capacity building initiatives. 

 “Preparedness in TVET includes infrastructure development, capitation, provision of appropriate facilities, engagement of qualified trainers and enhancement of quality assurance,” he said. 

To address the issue of infrastructure, Magoha last Thursday said the government will spend Sh8.2 billion to upgrade school facilities with the money going to construct 962 new  and fully-equipped classrooms in 561 schools countrywide, 785 laboratories and 1,0843 toilets.  

However, Desai admits that an increasing number of graduates from training institutions needs attention in the interim period between training and the world of work. 

Although Obondoh concurs, he says KNQN should be structured in such a manner that technical and vocational training graduates can speedily upgrade their education from certificate to degree or higher learning levels.

“For instance, certificate holders from TVET who aspire get degrees in engineering should be able to transfer their credits to universities and graduate in less than two years instead of five years,” says Obondoh. 

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