By Margaret Wawira, Valerie Karigitho and Caroline Thiong’o
While Kenya has made positive steps in increasing the education budget and has even surpassed the recommended global minimum, issues around teacher scarcity, quality of education and the strain on school infrastructure have not been addressed. At the same time, current allocations are not equitable, as they are not informed by need. For instance, funding based on school enrollment levels leads to severe underfunding of schools in poor neighbourhoods, usually characterised by low student enrolment.
In addition, corruption and misappropriation of resources are rife within the education sector. Challenges resulting in the heightened risk of misappropriation of funds include poor record-keeping, poor accounting systems, and procedures. Parents and the community are limited from a commitment and capacity perspective, as such, they are not able to effectively monitor and control the use of school funds. An inflexible budgeting process, lack of effective auditing and supervision, and delays in the disbursement of funds from the government have also contributed to the misappropriation of funds.
The GAWE 2021 theme on education financing is very opportune as policy dialogues and advocacy during the GAWE week focused on increasing financing of education to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all. In the commemoration of the action week, stakeholders in the education sector reiterate the need for the Kenyan government to, firstly, increase budgetary allocation so that more public schools, especially in urban informal settlements, can be established.
Secondly, it should expand existing facilities and personnel in public primary schools and engage in stringent enforcement of the regulatory framework especially concerning private actors. Thirdly, the government should identify frameworks that will help support children in urban informal settlements to access public education. The government should ensure timely generation of evidence on schooling patterns of children living in urban poor areas.
Additionally, the role of education stakeholders in ensuring improved monitoring of public expenditure & equitable financing should be acknowledged. The education stakeholders include Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), research institutions, and development partners.
Ms Wawira and Karigitho work for East African Centre for Human Rights. Thiong’o is a Research Officer at African Population and Health Research Centre.
This article was first published as an opinion article on The Standard