School heads have warned that delays in disbursement of free education funds is likely to interfere with national practical examinations which are a few weeks away.
The heads said they need the money to buy essential materials for the examination, such as test tubes, gases and specimens.
Today, Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) chairman George Magoha is scheduled to give a briefing in Nairobi on the council’s preparedness for the examinations.
Practical examinations will start on October 22 and will run until November 1. Subjects to be examined include French (Oral and Braille), German (Oral), Arabic (Oral), Kenya Sign Language (Practical Signing Skills), Music (Practicals) and Home Science (Food and Nutrition.
School heads said suppliers are reluctant to provide them with goods and services before payment.
The Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination will start late next month while the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination will start in early November.
Some 1.7 million candidates will sit the examinations, 1,060,787 of them for KCPE and the remaining 663,811 for KCSE. The tests will be administered at 10,075 centres across the country.
The head teachers regretted that a month after schools re-opened, the government is yet to release the scheduled 20 per cent capitation to learning institutions.
“I need money to keep these students in school. When the government releases the cash at the end of the term, I wonder what they expect me to use the money for,” said a head teacher of a special needs school in Busia County.
Another principal said non-teaching staff are suffering as many of them are unable to take care of their families due to delayed salaries.
Among the challenges the head teachers are facing are: Delayed payment of salaries to non-teaching staff, difficulties in paying suppliers and late payment of salaries to teachers hired by boards of management.
In August, the ministry released Sh6 billion to schools after protests by head teachers.
The money was released at the end of the term when schools were almost closing.
Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (Kessha), Special School Heads Association of Kenya (SSHAK) and Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) have also raised the alarm over the delay.
Kessha chairman Kahi Indimuli said school heads are worried by frequent delays in disbursement of the funds. He called for a long lasting solution.
“We have an eight per cent VAT increase in the cost of many goods and schools are affected. When you delay the funds, it means we have to get items from suppliers on credit, yet most of them are not willing to do so,” said Mr Indimuli.
He said schools are suffering due to lack of funds, adding that the most affected are day schools which rely mostly on the capitation.
“It is very stressful to manage a school when you are not sure when the funds will come,” said the chairman.
Special school heads association chairman Arthur Injenga said they were yet to receive Sh500 million from the government.
“Children with special needs are unique. Any delay in releasing the funds inconveniences us completely,” he said.
Knut Secretary-General Wilson Sossion asked the government to release the funds and stop creating chaos in the education sector.
“The government should release the funds by the end of this week, otherwise we shall ask that schools take a break until all the money is wired,” said Mr Sossion.
However, Education Principal Secretary Bellio Kipsang said the government is working round the clock to have the cash disbursed to schools.
“We are in talks with the National Treasury on this issue. We have the best interests of our children at heart and we will ensure that they get the funds on time,” said Dr Kipsang.
He said the delay in releasing the funds was occasioned by the Supplementary Budget and the Finance Act, which were signed into law last week by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
In last week’s supplementary budget, the basic education budget was reduced by Sh1 billion in respect of expenditure, both recurrent and development.
The government releases funds to schools in phases; first term 50 per cent, second term 30 per cent and third term 20 per cent.