The equity and quality implications of free day secondary education (fdse) policy in Kenya: what is the unfinished business in the financial arrangement?
This paper assesses the financing mechanisms of Free Day Secondary Education (FDSE) education policy focusing on the sustainability of the programme in terms of fostering the desired equity and quality of education provided. It is concerned with one main question: What is the unfinished business in the current education financial arrangement in Kenya? To answer the question, the paper sets out to achieve three objectives: To profile the current trends in enrollment and equity in secondary school education in Kenya; to assess the funding strategy for the secondary education sectors in the country; and to examine the emerging challenges and implications of the free education policy in Kenya in order to establish the unfinished business. The source of data for the paper was a combination of secondary data through desk literature review and primary data from interviews with 136 secondary school teachers and principals pursuing their school-based degree programmes at Kenyatta and Mount Kenya Universes during the 2012/2013 academic year. The major finding is that while on the one hand the implementation of the policy has resulted into exponential quantitative growth in students’ enrollment; on the other hand , the education sector is fraught with multifarious and intertwined finance related challenges of providing quality and equitable education thereby resulting in conspicuously wide and severe regional and gender disparities in access to, and quality of education. The funds meant for the day secondary schools are grossly inadequate and irregularly remitted to schools and this has exacerbated acute shortages of essential learning physical and human resources forcing teachers to resort to unconventional instructional techniques. The overall impact has been low quality outcomes of education and emergence of compulsory latent user charges to be shouldered by the already over-burdened poor households, especially those residing in urban slums and ASAL regions. It is concluded that the unfinished business in the current Government funding strategy is to make is sustainable and hence there is an urgent need to devise alternative additional sources of funding in order to increase the current capitation from a flat rate of Khs.10, 265 to 32,747 for boys and 33,707 for girls who should get an extra Ksh.960 to meet their sanitary needs. It is recommended that day secondary schools in Kenya should be encouraged to generate extra funds from income generating activities and work out mechanisms of eradicating all bottlenecks related to additional educational financial burden for children from poor socio-economic backgrounds that hinder them from accessing equitable and quality education.