Government Expenditure and Quality of Education: A Case of Public Primary Schools in Kenya
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Government allocation to primary education in Kenya has been provided since independence. The financing has been complemented by both community and household resources. The implementation of Free Primary Education (FPE) in 2003 increased enrolment to a Gross Enrolment Rate of 104 percent in 2003 from 92 percent in 2002 but stabilized at 104.2 percent in 2015. Class-pupil and teacher-pupil ratio increased to 45:1 and 56.6 between 2002/3 and 2012/3 respectively which compromised the quality of education and school effectiveness. This was due to teachers concentrating on the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations results at the expense of skill acquisition in arithmetic and comprehension. The compromise produced biased KCPE results that could affect key policy decisions made based on the results. Despite increased enrolment that affected class-pupil and pupil-teacher ratio, 35 percent of households’ expenditure to education before FPE implementation was saved with the introduction of FPE. In the past, the measure of education quality has been KCPE results which were mostly biased. The KCPE results were low with FPE despite increased government expenditure on education. Although FPE benefits seemed high, questions on actual impact of government expenditure on overall school performance measured by education quality levels had not been addressed before, during and after the FPE implementation and they form the problem discussed in the study. Analysis results revealed that government expenditure had positive and statistically significant impact on enrolment and quality of education Coefficients for school characteristics such as number of classes, teachers, books and availability of toilets had positive and at least 95% - 99% statistical significance with government expenditure. Further, coefficients for class types and schools located in rural areas were found to affect enrolment at 99% statistical significance. Further, education quality was low in 2004 as compared to 2000 but improved in 2012 compared to 2004. Class-pupil & pupil–toilet ratio, distance from small town, dispensary, bookshop, and secondary school, as well as class type, contributed negatively to efficiency scores. Class-book ratio, government expenditure, playfield availability, and class numbers contributed to the inefficiency levels identified. On policy, it was clear that the government should increase expenditure on education which affected overall school performance in public primary schools. The expenditure should be increased towards quality classes and teachers who are high determinants of education quality.