Over the years, the education sector in Kenya has been allocated an increasing amount of money during the annual national budget. But whether the increasing allocation to the sector will result in automatic economic development and job creation in the country is still a puzzle.
In the recently released Kenya Economic Survey 2015 by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, 800,000 new jobs were created in 2014. Over 600,000 jobs, which represents, 82.7 per cent of the jobs came from the informal sector. There were 22,000 new jobs created in casual employment for females in 2014, representing a 6.2 percent increase in the informal employment in 2014. This is higher than the 5.9 per cent increase in 2013.
The education sector continues to get the lion’s share of the country’s national budget each year. According to the Highlights of the 2015/2016 Budget-The Mwananchi Guide, the sector was allocated Sh27.1 billion more; from Sh308.6 billion in the 2014/2015 financial year to Sh335.7 billion in the 2015/2016 financial year. Out of this, Sh32.7 billion has been set aside for free secondary education, Sh14.1 billion for free primary education, Sh52.9 billion for university education, Sh181.1 billion for the Teachers Service Commission and Sh17.58 billion for the laptop program.
In its 2013-2017 manifesto, the Jubilee Government outlined its commitment to do away with the financial and non financial hurdles that hinder access to education. The government, in addition, promised to increase the amount allocated to the education sector.
The Coalition government’s manifesto had also indicated the plan to increase education funding by 1 per cent each year so that by 2018 it reaches 32 percentage of Government spending. This seems to be the trend of increasing allocation without necessary also determining the output from the increase.
The Society for International Development Report 2013 cites that attainment of higher education across all segments of the population is expected to translate to increased economic growth and ensure more equitable distribution of incomes in the long term.
To enhance higher education in the country, the government has consistently increased the funding to university education. In addition, there has been an increasing number of students enrolling in primary, secondary and institutions of higher learning. The total enrollment in primary school rose from 9.9 million in 2013 to 10 million pupils in 2014 while secondary school enrollment rose from 2.3 million to 2.1 million pupils.
But Geoffrey Injeni, a lecturer at Strathmore Business School says that funding education ought to be objective if we are to realize meaningful results.
“If we are just increasing the funding to recurrent expenditure such as paying salaries, then we will not achieve a lot. You may have a little employment arising in the formal sector. This is because, by having more people access education, there will be increased acquisition of technical skills hence more Kenyans will most likely resort to self employment,”
said Injeni, adding that such a scenario is most definitely likely to result in a lower labor force in the formal sector.
He added that funding infrastructure within the education sector can only create side jobs such as construction personnel.
In the 2015/2016 budget to be read on Thursday by the Finance Cabinet secretary Henry Rotich, the money allocated to sanitary towels in schools remained at Sh0.4 billion while the allocations for the resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons doubled from Sh0.6 billion in 2014.