Before you vote: The truth about free secondary education promises


Before you vote: The truth about free secondary education promises

According to the Economic Survey 2017, there were 2,720,600 students who enrolled into secondary schools from primary

“In 2007, I was the very first one to propose a debate that for our youth from nursery to primary, up to Form One to Form Four, we would pay their fees. Therefore, NASA’s plan of providing free secondary education started in 2007 when I was vying for presidency.”

 –Nasa running mate Kalonzo Musyoka in Kapsabet on June 4, 2017

Did Kalonzo promise free secondary education before Jubilee?

The question of who was first to promise free secondary education has been the topic of discussion, with Jubilee accusing the National Super Alliance (Nasa) of copying their agenda for Kenyans, and vice versa. 

The matter came to the fore as the official campaign period kicked off, a review of media reports and political party manifestos by Nation Newsplex shows.

On May 6, 2017, President Kenyatta said that the government had allocated Sh5 billion in the budget which would be used to improve infrastructure in schools, so as to ensure 100 per cent transition of students from early childhood education to Form Four.

At Kisii Stadium on May 17, Nasa, through Kalonzo Musyoka pledged to introduce free secondary education once the alliance got into power. “I want all parents of Kisii and the entire Kenya to listen. The Nasa Government will ensure free tuition from (Standard One) to Form Four. No parent will be pushed again. We must educate our children,” he said.

The President would later, on various occasions, accuse the opposition of hijacking his government’s pledge without having thought through the planning process needed to make such a pledge a reality.

In June 2016 at the Kenya Secondary School Heads Association’s Annual National Conference in Mombasa the President said the government was “working towards making secondary education fully free in the next three years.”

Business Daily reports on November 15 and December 24, 2007, and Daily Nation on October 15 the same year show Mr Musyoka, as the Presidential candidate for ODM Kenya did indeed propose free secondary education at the time, as did Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki, who were also candidates for the presidency at the time.

So how much would free secondary education cost? Currently, in the 2017-2018 financial year, the education docket was allocated Sh349.9 billion, with Sh14billion and Sh33billion going to financing Free Primary and Day Secondary Education respectively.

COMPROMISING QUALITY

A Taskforce on Secondary School fees that was chaired by Dr Kilemi Mwiria concluded that to assure fully free day secondary school, the government would pay a capitation grant of Sh23,975 per student.

According to the Economic Survey 2017, there were 2,720,600 students who enrolled into secondary schools. Statistics provided by the Ministry of Education in 2014 stated that 93.28 per cent of the students enrolled into secondary school are in public schools. Assuming that the rate remains constant, it would imply that about2,537,775 students are in public schools. That means the government would have to pay Sh60.8 billion, without including expenses such as boarding.

Both Jubilee and Nasa, just like the candidates 10 years ago, are yet to specify exactly how they would fund free secondary education.

There are also lingering questions about the country’s preparedness to adopt the new form of education, judging from the confusion that marred the introduction of Free Primary Education back in 2003 and the whole debate around comprising quality at the expense of providing free education as well as the delays encountered in releasing the funds every year.

For instance, the government this year announced it had released Sh5.5 billion for funding free education for Term Two almost a month since schools reopened.

NEW FORM OF EDUCATION

Both Jubilee and Nasa, just like candidates 10 years ago, are yet to specify exactly how they would fund free secondary education.

There are also lingering questions about the country’s preparedness to adopt the new form of education, judging from the confusion that marred the introduction of Free Primary Education back in 2003 and the whole debate of if quality of education had been compromised at the expense of providing free education, and the delays encountered in releasing the funds every year.

For instance, the government this year released Sh5.5 billion for funding free education for term two of the academic calendar, coming almost a month since schools reopened.

While Kalonzo’s claim of being the first to pledge free secondary school education is mostly true, neither of the rival political camps has provided Kenyans with useful details on how they would make this campaign pledge a reality once they get into power.

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