The Use and Usefulness of Free Primary Education Grant: Lessons from Kenya
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In a growing number of countries, a significant reform in education management is underway: schools which in earlier years had very little or no say in their financial management now receive grants directly from central authorities. In many developing countries, this new trend breaks a tradition of centralized decision-making and control over financial resources. In Kenya, public primary schools started receiving grants following the introduction of Free Primary Education in 2003. School grants are expected to make a positive contribution to access, quality and equity. However, there can be a great distance between a policy and its implementation and the simple existence of school grant in no way guarantees that these improvements will be realized. This paper is based on a study that sought to (i) establish how the school grants policy is implemented in and by different schools, (ii) learn what its contribution is to the grand policy objective. The study adopted a sequential mixed methods research design. Phase One of the study entailed collecting qualitative data from a wide range of actors at school and district levels while Phase Two entailed collection of quantitative data. The study revealed that the FPE grant had led to increased access to education, greater availability of instructional materials and had promoted participatory decision-making in schools. Among the recommendations were that the government should consider increasing school grants relative to market prices, include a budget line on building and construction and ensure timely and regular disbursement of school grants.