NAIROBI, May 19 – The government has stamped its commitment towards the Free Secondary Education (FSE) and released the second batch of funds amounting to Sh4.1 billion three weeks into the second term.
Education Permanent Secretary Karega Mutahi made the announcement at his Jogoo House office on Monday and dismissed reports appearing in the local dailies over the weekend discrediting the initiative as a political tool.
“Every qualified student has received money; if they haven’t they should present their case to us then we will give the money,” Mutahi said.
The Permanent Secretary indicated that only 455 schools have not received any funds for failing to meet the set criteria and not 1,616 as reported in the media.
Out of this 416 are small schools with less than 100 students in total while others had their bank accounts rejected.
He however assured that their monies have been preserved and will be paid out once a validation exercise, which is ongoing, is complete.
Mutahi absolved the government from fault and instead attributed the delay to Parliament in passing the supplementary budget.
Karega stated: “The money must first be approved by Parliament and availed to us. If it hasn’t arrived then it doesn’t go out.”
When the program was launched in January a total of Sh2.9 billion was disbursed to 1.3 learners in 4,850 Secondary Schools countrywide with each student getting Sh2, 071. In this second batch each of the learners has been allocated Sh3, 138.
Earlier on Monday the Kenya National Association of Parents had issued a mass action threat noting that the failure by the government to disburse the funds was highly inconveniencing parents and schools.
The government introduced FSE early this year as a follow up to the 2003 Free Primary Education (FPE) initiative, which is part of a wider plan to offer 14 years of free education by the year 2010.
FSE however suffered financial setbacks since funds for its implementation had not been factored in this year’s financial budget.
This second disbursement was saved by a Sh22 billion budgetary supplements passed by Parliament early this month.
FPE and FSE initiatives have suffered the shortage of teachers and inadequate infrastructural facilities. This has resulted to overcrowded classrooms and lowered the quality of education.
Separately on Monday the Senior Deputy Secretary in the Ministry Magdalene Wambua announced plans to build an additional 560 fully equipped Secondary Schools and rehabilitate another 60 in a bid to increase access to education.
Teachers Service Commission (TSC) Secretary Gabriel Lengoiboni indicated in the weekend that the commission intended to hire close to 60,000 primary and secondary teachers in the next financial year subject to availability of funds by the Treasury.
In the current financial year, the government has hired 4,000 teachers against a target of 10,000 due to inadequate funds.
The Permanent Secretary however defended the free education initiative noting that it is the envy of many countries around the world.
“We have been treated as a case study in Africa; there are many countries that can’t still understand how we do this,” he said.
Besides this the government has increased bursary allocations and infrastructural development funds to vulnerable areas including the Arid and Semi-arid areas.