The disgruntlement of the educators in the public sector over pay and staffing is widely known and documented. Less well documented is the detrimental effect that this has on school going children. This week public the negative effects of inefficiencies in the public education were glaring as schools threatened to send pupils back home next week if the government, and the Ministry of Education and Treasury in particular, fail to disburse 10 billion shillings for free education.
“We do not have learning materials, we have not paid our staff and the cost of commodities has risen and our suppliers have withdrawn. How are we expected to keep children in schools?” stated the national chairperson of the Kenya Secondary School Heads Association.
“This is a dangerous path that the government has taken. They should release the cash immediately because some schools are already closing down. Suppliers have suspended their services yet these are debts are owed against government grants” the National Chair of the Kenya National Union of Teachers is quoted as stating.
It is difficult to align these events with the requirements of the constitution on education. Constitutionally:
- Every person has a right to education (Article 43)
- Every child has the right to free and compulsory basic education (Article 53); and
- The State is required to take measures, including affirmative action to ensure that the youth access relevant education and training (Article 55)
The fourth schedule of the constitution also allocates to the national government issues of education policy and standards. However despite the fact that the constitution entrenches the education as a universal right, and makes the national government the custodian and distributor of it, as evidenced from its failure to release funding for free education in a timely fashion the national government is falling far short of its constitutional duty to ensure that every child can access free and compulsory basic education.
It seems that despite the constitutional right to education the official government rhetoric on education reform, the improvement of education standards and education for all remains just that, rhetoric. There seems to the be only limited investment in provision or improvement of public education in it’s submissions to the Parliamentary Committee on Education, Research and Technology the Ministry of Education stated that Free Primary Education has been underfunded by 4 billion shillings and Free Day Secondary education by 11.4 billion shillings.