, NAIROBI, Kenya, January 6 – The government has released Sh10.1 billion to fund the Free Primary Education (FPE) and Free Day Secondary Education(FDSE) school programmes in the country.
Education Minister Professor Sam Ongeri who released the funds on Thursday afternoon said the amount is the largest single disbursement since 2003 when the Free Primary Education project was launched.
The Cabinet Minister said the amount will benefit 5,663 public secondary schools and 19,000 primary schools in all parts of the country.
Prof Ongeri stated that Secondary Schools have been allocated Sh6.2 billion at the rate of Sh3,857 per student while Sh3.8 billion will go to primary schools, with each pupil getting Sh460 this term.
“Free Day Secondary Education, tuition account number 1, amount per child is Sh1,388 totaling to Sh2,243,000,000. Operations account number 2 Sh2,469,” he outlined.
“Free Primary Education, tuition account number 1, each child will receive Sh275 for the first term in 2010,” he added.
The government has spent Sh101 billion for both Free Primary Education and day secondary schools projects since 2003.
“This is the biggest single government disbursement to schools since the inception of the pro-poor government policy on education,” he said.
“Kenyans are aware that following the introduction of Free Primary Education in 2003 and Free Day Secondary Education in 2008 enrollment at both levels has increased tremendously,” he stated.
But as the government released the funds, several officials at the Ministry remain under investigation by the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission for failing to account for millions of shillings given by the government and donors to fund the Free Primary Education project.
Total disbursements since inception of the programme at present lie at a total of Sh101 billion with the Free Primary Education funds standing at Sh60.8 billion while that of the Free Day Secondary Schools lies at Sh50.9 billion.
During the announcement, education officials and school heads were warned against the misuse of funds meant for the Free Primary and Secondary Day education programmes.
Prof Ongeri emphasised that stern action will be taken against education officials caught in the act and said the funds allocated should be used prudently as per the instructions given by the Ministry.
“Strong action has been taken against all individuals who have the habit of misusing these funds. Some are already in court and others are going to be soon arraigned so let no one be cheated. We will deal without mercy with anyone engaging in any kind of fraud,” he stated.
When Kenya created its Free Education System in 2003, it was lauded internationally for extending education to those who could not afford paying for schooling but a government audit had found that significant portions of the funds could not be accounted for.
At the same time, the Education Minister has outlined government plans to employ more teachers.
“You know last time through the economic stimulus package, we were able to bring on board over 18,000 teachers within a very short period of time. In our forward planning, we are engaging the Treasury to be able to give us additional numbers of teachers under a similar programme or a different one,” he stated.
He said that priority will be given to the funding of early childhood education in the next financial year since it has always been sidestepped.
“I just want to reassure you that we are fully engaged with the Treasury with on the issue of early childhood education. You remember that we were to mainstream it in January 2010 but budget was not available. In the July budget which was read in Parliament, unfortunately that bit was excluded,” he said.
“But I have since then carried out correspondence with my counterpart the deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance and I know have it in writing that in the next budget, they will prioritise the ECD.”