CBC classrooms delayed as contractors cite high costs

Sokoro Girls Secondary School

Students walk past a newly constructed a CBC classroom at Sokoro Girls Secondary School in Elburgon, Nakuru County on May 11. Many principals in the region say more classrooms need to be constructed.

Photo credit: John Njoroge | Nation Media Group

 The construction of classrooms in preparation for the roll out of junior secondary school under the competency-based curriculum (CBC) next year is in jeopardy as some contractors abandon the projects citing high cost of construction materials and underfunding.

Principals and contractors who spoke to the Nation revealed that the funds that were allocated in phase one were not enough and this would further complicate the situation in phase two.

“The amount was not enough to complete a standard classroom as required by the Ministry of Education. The CBC classroom design is very expensive,” said one contractor.

The government set the cost of constructing one classroom at Sh788,000, a huge reduction from the Sh1.2 million previously used as a guideline by the Ministry of Education on recommendation from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“The materials are costly and not all of them are locally available, like steel and building stones, which must be machine-dressed. Only the ballast is locally available and some quarries are as far as 40km. This incurs more transport costs,” he said.

Some contractors alleged that they have not been paid for phase one, which they said could cause delays in the second phase while others expressed fear that the project might end when a new government takes over after the election.

According to Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha, the ministry plans to construct a total of 10,000 classrooms by the end of July. However, only 6,495 have been completed so far.

In Molo sub-county, construction is yet to start, with principals saying adding one or two classrooms in every school will not be enough to alleviate the shortage of infrastructure.

Contractors in Samburu County, said they are strained financially.

“Most classrooms within Maralal and Samburu Central area are complete because it’s less costly, unlike in Samburu North and East. In my own view, the government should have increased the amount to at least Sh1 million per classroom,” said a contractor who did not want to be named for fear of reprisal.

“I declined to take up (work) in Samburu North because if you calculate well, you will find that you will dig into your pockets to finance the construction,” he added.

In Vihiga County, only three out of 105 classrooms are incomplete. County education director Hellen Nyang’au said the second phase will target the remaining schools.

About 200 classrooms in the Rift Valley are yet to be completed. So far, only 1,505 classrooms out of the 1,737 classrooms have been completed. The region’s director of education Jared Obiero said: “Nandi and Bomet have attained 100 per cent completion with Turkana, West Pokot, Trans Nzoia ,Uasin Gishu ,Laikipia, Nakuru, Kajiado and Samburu at 80 per cent.”

Laikipia County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri said some contractors, especially in Laikipia North, which was hard hit by drought, were forced to ferry water from other parts of the county to ensure they delivert on time.

In Narok County about 108 of the 125 classrooms have so far been completed. County commissioner Isaac Masinde said: “We have some contractors who applied for the tender but had no financial capacity.”  The administrator issued a two-week notice to the affected contractors to either finish the projects or their contractors would be terminated.

A senior teacher at Mulaha Secondary School in Siaya County, who requested anonymity, said the contractor stopped working two months ago.

In Kisumu County, all the 159 classrooms have been put up, but some of the schools had to dig into their pockets for extra cash to facilitate completion. County director of education Peter Munene said: “We advised schools to collaborate with the contractors by offering the necessary financial support.”

Ombaka Secondary School principal James Momanyi said the CBC classroom allocated to his school can barely hold a quarter of the expected population. The school located in Nyando sub-county expects to admit most of the learners from the neighbouring primary schools.

“We are looking forward to construction of more classrooms next year,” he said.

In Homa Bay County, 211 of the 252 classrooms have been completed. County Commissioner Moses Lilan said the remaining classrooms will be handed over in the coming weeks. The government had initially planned to put up 293 classrooms in the county.

“Delivery of materials was also a main concern especially to the islands. The cost of transportation was a bit high,” Mr Lilan said.

Some 242 classrooms had been completed in Kisii County by last week. The county was allocated 243 classrooms.

In Murang’a County, Gatanga MP Nduati Ngugi said the Sh788,000 blanket ceiling is limiting quality.

 “This programme was supposed to be an economic stimulus to promote local contractors. But it has become a source of contractual headache,” he said. A report by the county government projects coordination committee put abandonment of CBC projects at 25 per cent by the end of February.

In the central region, Murang’a leads at 99 per cent completion, with 219 classrooms completed, followed by Kiambu at 98 per cent with 186 classrooms and Kirinyaga at 92 per cent with 101 classrooms.

Speaking to the Nation, regional director of education Milton Nzioki said that there have been only a few cases of stalemates due to shortage of funds.

“This has been caused by contractors who had taken many classrooms but were unable to complete the construction midway because of insufficient funds,” he said.

Kirinyaga Central deputy county commissioner Daniel Ndege commended the contractors saying the “government is determined to fully implement the new education system”.

A number of teachers and unionists have accused the government of not being adequately prepared ahead of the rollout next year.

Laikipia Kenya post primary education teachers union executive secretary Robert Miano said the government had not fully equipped schools with the necessary resources.

“In my view, the government has not allocated enough of the budget towards the programme. Construction of classrooms in a few schools will bring confusion in the rollout of the programme next year,” he said.

By Faith Nyamai, George Munene, Mwangi Muiruri, Mercy Mwende, Angeline Ochieng, George Odiwuor, Wycliffe Nyaberi, Derick Luvega and Kassim Adinasi, Steve Njuguna, John Njoroge, Eric Matara and Robert Kiplagat