Principals play hide-and-seek with suppliers as debts mount - Beaking Kenya News

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Sunday, 9 June 2019

Principals play hide-and-seek with suppliers as debts mount

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Secondary schools are facing financial crisis as they grapple with debts running into millions of shillings owed to various suppliers due to the decline in funding of schools from the government.
Most of the debts arise from the purchase of food items for use in schools.
Principals of some of the 9,000 secondary schools have had to play hide-and-seek games as suppliers put them on pressure to settle the debts whenever the government announces that it has released capitation to schools.
The crisis has been compounded by the government directive that all students be registered under Nemis which has seen some students miss funding due to lack of birth certificates.
Kenya Secondary School Heads Association chairman Kahi Indimuli said the association is not able to compute the amount of money schools owe suppliers for goods and services delivered.
“Each school owes suppliers and it handles them individually,” said Mr Indimuli who admitted that the institutions are facing a financial crisis.
Some of the schools have had to turn to harambees in order to construct classrooms, dormitories and toilets despite a Sh439 billion budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Education for infrastructure development. Secondary schools have since asked for Sh9 billion for infrastructure development from the current Sh1.5 billion which the ministry of Education agrees is too little.
And government officials and politicians have had to conduct funds drives for schools to help them put up these crucial facilities in order to accommodate the high number of students under the 100 per cent transition policy, which is in its second year.
Last year, the Teachers Service Commission ordered an investigation over misappropriation of funds in schools which led to the transfer of several head teachers whose institutions had audit queries.
This is after it emerged that new principals of the affected schools had detected that their transferred colleagues had “looted” their former stations leaving behind empty bank accounts and heavy debts.
Special schools have not been left out of this crisis with Special School Headteachers Association of Kenya chairman Arthur Injenga indicating that more 200 schools are in financial crisis since they cannot settle debts.
Knut Nairobi branch Executive Secretary Mugwe Macharia said schools in the city are struggling to settle debts.
Mr Macharia said many schools have been inconvenienced especially with the introduction of Nemis which he said had locked out many students.
“Many schools are struggling to settle huge debts that they have accumulated over the years and they need support from the government,” said the executive secretary.
A principal of a secondary school in Central Kenya said schools are in big trouble due to debts.
“Suppliers are selling goods to schools at a higher price since they believe that it will take a long time before they get back their money,” said the principal.
Principals also lamented that candidates are not paying fees since they are sure that they will sit for the examination and later get their certificates.
In Nakuru, Uhuru Secondary School principal Amos Gamba said the school was struggling with feeding its 900 students as some of the parents have refused to pay Sh4,000 lunch fees.
In Nyeri, Othaya High School board chairperson Prof Wangari Mwai said that the school owed up to Sh10 million to suppliers in pending bills which had accumulated over the years.
Prof Mwai said that the new fees guidelines policy by the ministry had worked to their disadvantage.
In Muranga, Nginda Girls High School principal Jane Wanjiku said the school owes suppliers Sh6 million, forcing some to cut links with the institution.
In Kirinyaga County, Mr Ngari Muthang’ato, a school supplier lamented that secondary schools take too long to pay bills.
Mrs Anastasia Tirop, The Hill School Girls Eldoret principal, said they have been forced to reduce the number of students participating in activities such as games and sports. The school has a population of 561 students.
“In some cases, we stop allowing students to participate in certain activities which means that we might not get to know the talents of some of the students,” she added.

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