The position taken by headteachers over the students’ personal number is an ironic twist to a project meant to enhance efficiency in school management. They have faulted the National Education Management Information System (Nemis) as a hindrance to disbursement of capitation funds to schools as it does not capture the particulars of all enrolled students.
When the government introduced Nemis two years ago, it said the system would enable provision of quality, reliable and timely education statistics to enrich budgeting and other long-term plans. But head teachers are now criticising the system of doing the exact opposite; that it’s introducing confusion in the disbursement of funds and denying many learners government funds.
Arguably, the system is principally not the cause of the problem because the reason why it fails to capture some of the learners is that the serial numbers on many birth certificates, which are the primary registration documents, are duplicated. The challenge is with the registration of persons’ department, which is under the Ministry of Interior and Co-ordination of National Government.
The thinking behind Nemis is sound because it foreshadows a situation where figures on the status of education with regard to access, quality, equity, relevance, efficiency and institutional development are up to date and easily available.
In March this year, the Kenya National Examinations Council announced that about 370,000 candidates risked being deregistered due to the birth certificate blunder. Although the Education ministry forestalled a crisis by allowing the registration of the candidates pending resolution of the problem, the snag served as a pointer to a huge anomaly in civil registration.
Headteachers are, therefore, right in sounding the alarm over Nemis, only that their proposal for its outright scrapping is way off the mark. The problem can be rectified and the system let to continue. However, the Interior ministry should first iron out the birth certificates mess for Nemis to function properly.
Still, the Education ministry must up its game in putting learners under the system because, just two months ago, it had only captured about half of the country’s 13 million students in primary and secondary schools, yet the process began two years ago.
As a matter of urgency, however, the government must look at other alternatives of disbursing funds to schools when Nemis fails. Funding is a great challenge to schools, and so disbursement should not be affected by technology, which really ought to make things better.
The thinking behind the Nemis system is noble and it must be made to work to create efficiency in the education sector.