Principals reveal agony of running schools with insufficient money

Wednesday March 18 2020

Students of Lake Bogoria Girls on January 25, 2019 learn outside due to lack of enough classes. Many schools are battling the same issue. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


School principals have detailed the pain they are going through to keep the more than three million students in secondary schools comfortable in a confidential report handed over to Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha.

The report by the Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (Kessha), dubbed "Situational Analysis of Education in Public Secondary Schools", details the high cost of running the schools, lack of enough teachers, delay in release of capitation, congestion in classrooms, dormitories, halls, laboratories, school fields and washrooms and which has been created by 100 per cent transition from primary schools, among others.

The report, which was handed over to Prof Magoha by Kessha chairman Kahi Indimuli during the association’s 44th annual conference in Mombasa last week, indicates that the increase in the enrolment figure has not been matched by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) staffing for teachers in public secondary schools, forcing schools to employ teachers to address the shortage.

The report indicates that on average, schools have employed six board of management (BoM) teachers which costs an average of Sh1.1 million per year, with some schools having as many as 41 teachers under BoM.


Schools are also spending Sh2 million annually on support staff with most having an average of 10.


The cost of running the schools is also high as some institutions are spending Sh434,269 per year on electricity while the school with highest bill pays Sh901,200.

The average cost of water per year, the report indicates, is Sh355,539 while sewerage services cost an average of Sh160,178.

The report also indicates that schools lack infrastructure and equipment to facilitate learning, with most lacking chemistry, physics and biology laboratories.

“An analysis of income and expenditure shows that over the [past] three years, schools have on average been operating with less teachers, strained learning equipment and infrastructure including classrooms, dormitories and laboratories,” reads the report.

It goes on: “The 11 per cent deficit is an indication of pressure that school management endures to ensure the system is running, which is likely to impact on quality, efficiency and effectiveness. Based on evidence, Kessha proposes a 21 per cent increment in school fees to be borne equally by both the parents and the government, this is taking into consideration the national budget constraints,” adds the report.


Principals say an increase of 21 per cent will not only take care of the existing deficit in cost of operation, but will also enable the schools to fill in essential gaps in terms of learning equipment, materials and other resources required.

However, while addressing the conference, Prof Magoha ruled out an increase in fees and instead asked rich parents to support schools on voluntary basis.

The report indicates that delays in the disbursement of funds has contributed to inefficiency in the operations of secondary schools and want the ministry to disburse the funds on time for effective budgeting and service delivery.

Principals also want the TSC to implement a teacher staffing system that caters for attrition and deficiency noting that the current staffing system is biased towards replacement, thus affecting the new schools.

Data from TSC indicates that 80,000 teachers are employed by BoMs in public secondary schools..


In their report, principals say last year alone, each national school spent about Sh3 million to pay teachers while extra county schools spent about Sh2.3 million for the same.

County schools, on the other hand, spent Sh3 million each to pay teachers while sub-county schools spent Sh1.9 million each on teachers.

“Analysis of the school income and expenditure shows that approximately 92 per cent of the schools income is used on current expenditure. The eight per cent that is squeezed for infrastructure development is not sufficient to sustain the need for infrastructural development in schools,” reads the report.

“The class size has gone up, with many schools realising classes of over 40 students, laboratories, staff and other facilities are over stretched,” reads the report.

The report also indicates that some schools have a student population of about 1,965, therefore straining the existing facilities and which have not been expanded over the years. Some secondary schools do not have laboratories.

The report indicates that 11 per cent of school resources go to salaries, six per cent on capital expenditure, 42 per cent on teaching materials, 33 per cent on food and related items while debts service only takes one per cent.


The principals now want the Ministry of Education to reconsider options for funding for school developments, which include setting up a kitty that should be funded by the government and parents.

The confidential report indicates that schools have adopted several measures to reduce the costs of running, among them reducing the number of support staff.

Schools are now outsourcing some services while others are producing their own food through farming, both crop and animal, as well as establishment of bakeries within schools.

Some of the challenges facing the institutions, the report says, include delays in the disbursement of funds from the ministry, fluctuation in food prices and other basic products and inadequate capitation due to errors in the National Education Management Information System (Nemis).

In their recommendations, principals want the current deficit of 11 per cent addressed and call for commitment from both the government and parents towards ensuring that the young people get quality education.

“Both parents and the government need to dig deeper to reduce the deficit in order to facilitate smooth running of public secondary schools, thus guaranteeing quality,” reads the recommendations.


They also want funds to be released to schools on time, establishment of a coordinated system for text books distribution as some schools have books while others don't.

Principals also want the ministry to conduct an audit on schools to verify the numbers provided by Nemis, while TSC should post a sufficient number of teachers in each school.

They also want the ministry to negotiate with banks for special interest rates for schools or seek cheaper loan options for schools as well as introduction of a levy where parents will contribute for payment of salaries for teachers hired by the institutions.

During the Mombasa conference, several principals shared their experiences as they spent sleepless nights trying to balance their books of accounts and pay suppliers.

The principals said they are operating on a shoestring budget. Some students are learning under trees due to lack of classes while some schools lack dormitories to accommodate the learners.

“It is problematic. It has been very stressful. Head teachers in boarding schools are facing a very difficult situation,” said Mr Barrow Sadeko, the principal of Modogashe Secondary School in Lagdera, Garissa County.


Out of his 300 students, 295 have been captured in Nemis while the rest lack birth certificates.

“We could not register the remaining students because they lack birth certificates. I got 15 per cent of the required 30 per cent funds for this term,” the principal said.

Mr Kaluma Kithera, a principal of Kivumbini Mixed Secondary School in Kitui County, said the 100 per cent transition is good.

“Most of these students we admit are beyond what we are used to. A child comes with 80 marks, his or her level of understanding is below average. We have classes with many disparities — high and others with low marks — it requires you to strain a lot,” he added.

“But after we fed the data, there were those students who lacked birth certificates and they were not taken into the system. So, the money I was supposed to be given was recovered. It is as if I gave false data,” he added.

By second term, the Ministry of Education had recovered almost Sh300,000 from his school.


On his part, Mr Lucas Olunja, the principal of Tonga Boys High School in Migori County, says his 556 students have had to persevere.

“My school is an extra county. I received 15 per cent of the required funds. The problems is with Nemis. In my case, the money was sent for 437 students. We are surviving but it is difficult. We owe suppliers,” he said.

However, Mr Paul Kibet, the Director for Education, said Nemis has brought more efficiency in operations of the ministry as data is obtained from the system as opposed relying on school heads to secure the same data.