Schools Struggle to Stay Afloat Amidst Financial Crisis

By Treezer Michelle Atieno

In recent developments, headteachers and principals in Kenyan schools have raised a red flag, expressing their deep concerns about the financial challenges they are currently facing. The high prices of commodities and delays in the release of capitation funds have pushed many institutions to the brink of closure, posing a serious threat to the education system.

According to Emuhaya MP Omboko Milemba, who is also the national chairman of the Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers, schools are grappling with a cash crunch that is affecting their daily operations. The situation has forced schools to resort to food rationing for students, a move that is deemed critical and indicative of the severity of the problem.

Milemba emphasized the urgent need for the Ministry of Education to intervene by disbursing capitation grants to schools promptly. He stated, “Schools are operating on the edge due to financial challenges. Headmasters are talking to pupils to agree on food rationing or skipping meals, which is a very sensitive issue, especially in boarding schools.”

The impact of this financial crisis extends beyond the immediate concerns of food rationing. Zakayo Chepchieng, the chairperson of the Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association Nandi Central, highlighted that the crisis has led schools to spend more to keep learners in school. Parents, on the other hand, are still paying the same school fees, often in smaller instalments, unlike before when full payments were the norm.

One headteacher expressed concerns about the financial strain, stating, “We take almost everything on credit, which is very expensive. I’m afraid the schools will have huge deficits, and we don’t know who will pay. The only way is to increase fees or the capitation.”

The urgency of the matter was underscored by the warning that the closure of schools will not only impact learners but also disrupt the education calendar. The ripple effect is felt by suppliers who have not been paid, creating a dire situation across the education sector.

As a union, Milemba called on the Education Cabinet Secretary to prioritize the disbursement of funds within the next three days to prevent the imminent closure of schools. The government’s commitment to providing education for all is at stake, and the repercussions of a failure to address this financial crisis promptly could be severe.

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