President Ruto records major wins in education sector

President William Ruto hands over a mace to the Open University of Kenya (OUK) council chairman, Prof Ezra Maritim, during a ceremony to award a Charter to the institution at Konza Technocity in Makueni County on August 3, 2023.

Photo credit: PCS

What you need to know:

  • The jury is still out on the effects of the newly introduced university funding model.
  • The new administration has so far recruited over 50,000 new teachers, mostly for junior secondary.

Upon assuming office last year, President William Ruto was faced with three major issues that have been plaguing the education sector — whether to implement the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) or scrap it; rescuing 35 public universities that were financially crippled; and addressing the shortage of teachers and improving their welfare.

Reviewing CBC and taking a decision on it was among the campaign promises the President made during the 2022 campaigns. 

In the same month he was sworn in, the Head of State set up a task force on education reforms chaired by Prof Raphael Munavu. The 42-member team collected stakeholder and public views on education reforms before making a number of recommendations, including having junior secondary school (JSS) being hosted in primary schools. This was after the previous government pumped billions of shillings into constructing JSS classrooms in secondary schools.

But President Ruto explained the rationale for locating JSS in existing primary schools, saying it was what the majority of Kenyans wanted.

“The sector was lost at some point and especially on CBC matters, every other person who was honest with himself or herself was completely in the dark. We want to thank President Ruto for coming up with the taskforce that has given the sector mileage in terms of necessary reforms and strategies that will take us somewhere as a nation,” said Kenya National Union of Teachers Secretary-General Collins Oyuu.

The Head of State also acknowledged that most primary schools were overcrowded. And in a speech read on his behalf by Basic Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang, he assured Kenyans that his administration will build more schools to address the problem.

President Ruto has also scored big on teacher recruitment after his administration recruited over 50,000 teachers to bridge the staffing gap in public schools.

The recruitment began with 30,500 teachers specifically for JSS. 

“We consulted with the Ministry of Education and we were able to get correct data that we have 30,550 JSS classes, so we’ve allocated one teacher per class. That means a school with one stream got one teacher, two streams got two teachers and five streams got five teachers,” explained Teachers Service Commission (TSC) chairman Jamleck Muturi .

In July, the commission announced the recruitment of 20,000 more teachers—18,000 for JSS and 2,000 for primary schools.

Last month, TSC promoted over 14,000 primary and secondary school teachers. Some of those promoted include deputy headteachers and headteachers who had been serving in acting capacities. It also called for applications for promotions to 36,000 positions.

The recent signing of the salary increment for teachers following President Ruto’s directive is also a major win for him and the teachers. 

The President had promised teachers that he would take into account their promotions, especially those who had stagnated for years, improve their pay, recruit more teachers and increase their hardship allowances.

As for the public universities, the government has come up with a new funding formula it says will help to bail them out, but some stakeholders have warned that it could make education more expensive or leave students with mountains of debt when they complete their studies.

“The model promotes equity in the funding of students, whether scholarships, loans or bursaries will be based on need. The model will also promote inclusivity as every student who achieves the minimum university entrance standard will be funded according to their level of need,” Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu said.

He said the new model will increase the flow of funds to universities and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions.

A total of 45,186 university students and 42,144 TVET trainees are expected to be fully supported by the government.

Funding gap

For universities, 23,372 extremely needy students will receive 70 per cent scholarship, 26,488 needy students will receive 53 per cent and 84,140 less needy students will receive 38 per cent scholarship. The remaining cost of the programme will be covered through loans and family contribution.

The total funding requirement for the scheme is Sh39.4 billion for the 2023/2024 financial year.

To support the model, the CS said the government has already increased funding by Sh12.5 billion this financial year.

“The current funding gap of Sh18.6 billion will be provided in Supplementary (Budget) One of the 2023/2024 financial year,” the Mr Machogu said.

President Ruto said his administration has increased funding for universities from Sh44 billion to Sh82 billion this financial year.

The education sector received the highest share of the national government’s budget this financial year at Sh628.6 billion, up from Sh544.4 billion it was allocated in the last one.

TOMORROW:We assess President William Ruto's hits and misses in the agriculture and health sectors.