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Free Primary Education
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Free Secondary Education

Background

The Government introduced Free Secondary Education in January 2008. Through the initiative the Government hoped to achieve Education for All by 2015 m line with the Millennium Development Goals. The Government aims to develop a literate population which is key to the overall development of the nation.

Specifically, this programme was initiated in order to promote pupil transition from primary to secondary schools, and retention and completion in secondary schools without discrimination. Through the programme, the Government intends to remove major obstacles that have stood in the way of children who need to join and complete secondary education. The hardest hit groups by financial related obstacles have been children in urban slums, rural areas and the arid and semi arid lands.

All the three major political parties promised to provide free secondary education in their manifestos and its implementation is the realization of that pledge after the three (Orange Democratic Movement, Party of National Unity and Orange Democratic Movement - Kenya) constituted the Grand Coalition Government in early 2008.

The programme involves provision of government subsidy on tuition fees, teaching and learning materials for all secondary school students in public schools. Unlike Free Primary Education, it currently does not include funding for infrastructural development projects.

What are the characteristics of free secondary education?

Beginning January 2008, the Government set aside Kshs. 10,265 per annum for each student in a public secondary school. Besides funding tuition, teaching and learning materials, the Government also meets the cost of salaries for teachers and wages for non-teaching staff, as well as expenses of co-curricular activities.

Free Secondary Education promotes joint responsibilities between parents, the Government and sponsors of schools. Its implication is central to the national goal of poverty reduction, therefore calling for the spirit of partnership between the government, parents and other stakeholders. As the state meets the costs of items designated under this programme, parents or guardians axe still required to meet the cost of the following:

• Examination fee for form four examination (KCSE)
• School meals for day-scholars
• School uniforms
• Boarding fees at Kshs. 18,627 per annum
• Transport to and from school for day scholars
• Infrastructural development, including building and construction

In the urban slums, arid and semi-arid areas, the Government continues to supplement efforts by patents in managing low-cost boarding schools and the school-feeding programme. Public secondary schools are expected to enrol pupils who have qualified after primary examinations without discrimination. Schools are expected to be all inclusive and cater for all, even those with special needs like the disabled, slow learners and the visually challenged. The age bracket is between 12 years and 20 years. However anyone who wishes to join secondary school is free to do so, including those who had dropped out due to various reasons.

Free Secondary Education does not stop community initiatives like expansion of physical facilities, transport improvement for pupils and eminence as well as essential support services. Charges for such developments and improvements, however, have to be discussed between the school administration and parents (through boards Of governors that may initiate proposals and general meetings of Parents and Teachers associations), decisions minuted accordingly and final approval sought from the District Education Board, through the office of the District Education Officer.

Requests for approval from the District Education Board ate supposed to be considered and reviewed by the Board (DEB), which then makes recommendations on approval or rejection of such an application to the Ministry of Education for a final decision. The DEB forwards its recommendations on requests for approval to the Ministry of Education headquarters through the office of the District Education Officer. Heads and managers of schools are only allowed to charge and collect any additional charges after approval has been received from the Ministry of Education.

To facilitate proper custody, control and safekeeping of the hinds from various sources, it is a requirement for schools to maintain separate bank accounts for funds from different sources like CDP grants and donor funds. The money that is remitted by the Ministry of Education must have a separate bank account from those holding monies from other sources.
 

The decision to open a bank account in a particular bank and branch is discussed and ratified by the school board of governors meeting and accurate minutes of this meeting must be maintained. The details of the bank account are then forwarded to the Ministry Headquarters through the respective District Education Officers, Municipal Education Officers in the Municipalities, or City Education Officer in the case of Nairobi City.

All high value expenditure is first advertised and bids invited from eligible service providers or goods’ vendors. The tendering process should be handled by the school tender board, which is the one that must approve such high value expenditure after evaluating submitted bids and choosing the most suitable according to specifications of tender invitation.

Stakeholders in the implementation of the Free Secondary Education
The following are the core stakeholders in the implementation of Free Secondary education, their responsibilities are similar to those of FPE:

• The Ministry of Education
• Students
• Parents and the local community
• Teachers
• The District Education Office (DEO)
• Schools Audit

School Audit Unit

The Education Act (revised 1980) Cap 211 stipulates that annual accounts of educational institutions receiving public funds should be audited by the Schools Audit Unit of the Ministry of Education or in special circumstances/cases, by an approved firm of auditors as may be directed by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry. This requirement is specified in “grant-in-aid” rule number 173. Head teachers are required to submit the schools accounts, including financial statements to the auditors by 3l’ January of the following year.

Failure to submit the required information to the auditors on time may result in disciplinary action being taken against the head teacher who is the school’s principal accounting and supervising officer. The school’s head is deemed responsible for the school’s financial statements and any irregular accounting which may not be noted by the auditors.

Challenges facing Free Secondary Education

The following are among the challenges that have been noted:

1. Free Secondary Education lacks a specific and clear policy and legislative framework, which has made it remain a political declaration and many of its activities reactive

2. Some schools are still overcharging parents by asking for more than
the approved boarding fees in the Ministry guidelines, yet the Ministry does not seem keen to take action to stop this

3. The shortage of teachers in schools is causing heavy workloads for the limited human resources. There has been a sharp rise in enrolment as a result of the programme being implemented, putting a strain on the few teachers in schools

4. Lack of adequate school facilities to serve the needs of both students and the teachers due to the sharp increase in enrolment of students

5. No personalized attention for slow learners due to crowded classes

6. Inadequate funds sent to schools coupled with stiff rules of expenditure that fail to appreciate the unique needs of some of the schools. All schools are allocated that same amount

7. The requirement for schools to have enrolment of at least forty students has led to submission of non-existent (ghost) student lists to the Ministry headquarters by some schools. According to the Ministry guidelines, schools with low emolument would have to be merged so that they can benefit from the kitty. However, schools in arid and semi-arid areas were spared this requirement

8. Due to the high demand for places in well performing schools, parallel classes have been established for the fee paying students. Out of desperation parents accept the same offer

9. No specific budget allocation has been made for disabled children with special needs. Considering that under the Children’s Act (2001), it is a human right that every child must enjoy and has to be protected by law

10. A number of schools have not engaged bursars leaving the head teacher as the accounting officer. This has opened the fund to mismanagement and corruption by the head teachers.

11. There are no transparent procurement guidelines for schools. Often teachers end up as suppliers fuelling conflict of interest in the management of funds.

12. There has been delay in the remittance the funds to the schools due to a number of factors such as:

• Low enrolment that is below 40 students per class in some area has posed a challenge
• Inconsistencies in enrolment records presented to the Ministry of education
• Ineligible bank accounts details presented by schools (in some cases banks have disowned the supposed school bank account)

Disbursement of funds

The Ministry’s guidelines state that the total annual budget will be split into three fractions:
1. The first tranche of Kshs. 5,000 per student released in December
2. In April the second tranche released to cover term two Kshs. 3,000
3. In August the third tranche released to cover term three Kshs. 2,265


 

                                 

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