Send cash to schools for them to pay their bills

What you need to know:

  • Schools, like other entities, have recurrent costs such as salaries and utility bills irrespective of learners being on session or not.
  • A significant percentage of school workers are employed by boards of management.
  • Schools not only require the money for the pending bills but they need more resources in preparation for their reopening in January.

The government’s decision to close educational institutions for the rest of year stands out as one of the painful shocks of Covid-19.

A whole generation of learners have to repeat classes as the country could not offer other alternatives to the learners to complete their studies this year. This will have far-reaching ramifications.

But there are immediate challenges. Since schools closed in March, the government stopped remitting funds to the institutions on the assumption that learners were at home and there were no costs.

That was a wrong assumption. Schools, like other entities, have recurrent costs such as salaries and utility bills irrespective of learners being on session or not.

A significant percentage of school workers are employed by boards of management. They are paid from fees collected from students and grants from the Exchequer.

But these have not been forthcoming. For months now, these workers have gone without salaries and school principals and teachers’ unions have on several occasions talked about this, calling on the government to give capitation to schools to meet those costs.

Last week, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha told a parliamentary committee that the government would send the cash to schools.

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani confirmed that separately. But now there is a muddle: The money was to be sent to schools’ bank accounts but they have not received it. This need to be clarified. What happened? Why has the money not been disbursed to schools?

Schools not only require the money for the pending bills but they need more resources in preparation for their reopening in January. There is a bigger challenge ahead. Schools cannot operate in the coronavirus regime using the existing facilities.

Classrooms, dormitories, toilets and other facilities are stretched because of high enrolment that has been attained amid the government’s aggressive campaign for universal education. Massive expansion of facilities is paramount.

It is pertinent that the government not only remits pending grants to schools but also disburses more funds for expansion and rehabilitation of facilities in readiness for next year.