Education

Education

Education Sector Policy Brief #1

A4T Img

Enhancing the Ability of Citizens to Monitor the use of Public Resources

Introduction

The advent of Free Primary Education (FPE) in 2003 not only increased enrolment rates in public primary schools but also meant that all tax paying Kenyans would share in the responsibility of educating our children regardless of whether one has a school going child or not. As a result, Kenya’s budgetary allocation for the implementation of FPE has steadily increased from Kshs. 5.4 billion in 2003 to Kshs. 14. 1 Billion in 2015. This constitutes an average of 6.4% of GDP (or 17% of the annual budget).

Kenya herald a new legal regime in August 2010 with the promulgation of the current Constitution. The new legal regime is centred on transparent, participatory and accountable use of public resources. The right of citizens to access information held by the state is provided for under Article 35 and is further buttressed by the Access to Information Act 2016 which gives effect to Article 35 and confers on the Commission on Administrative Justice the oversight and enforcement functions and powers in ensuring its implementation. Public participation is provided for under the Constitution as one of the national values and principles of governance in addition to being one of the objectives for the adoption of the devolved system of governance. The Constitution further provides for public participation as one of the principles of public finance in addition to responsible financial management and clear fiscal reporting.

The Bill of Rights also recognises education as an economic and social right. To give effect to the provisions of the Constitution, the Government enacted the Basic Education Act 2013 and the Regulations of 2015 which incorporate participatory, transparent and accountable legal frameworks. Among the principles enshrined under the Act include: Accountability and democratic decision making within the institutions of basic education; Promotion of good governance, participation and inclusiveness of parents, communities, private sector and other stakeholders in the development and management of basic education; and, Transparency and cost effective use of educational resources and sustainable implementation of educational services. The Act further provides for the establishment of Boards of Management and Parents’ Associations which also have a role in the management of public primary schools.

It has however been established through successive audit reports that funds utilization at public primary schools has been wanting with reported irregularities in the procurement of textbooks and outright disregard by some managers of public primary schools of government policies and legislation. Poor and inadequate infrastructure for schools has also been identified as a challenge in public primary schools within Nairobi County.

Approaches and results

Transparency International Kenya has with the partnership of other organisations and the support of development partners implemented various initiatives in the education sector to track the flow and utilisation of public resources. The findings in this policy brief are as a result of implementing studies in targeted institutions, engaging stakeholders including public officials and the general public on issues affecting the education sector. These studies have mainly focused on flow and utilisation of public resources in Nairobi, Kwale, Kisumu and Trans Nzoia Counties and protection of land belonging to public learning institutions in Nairobi and Kwale counties.

Among the programmes implemented in this regard include the Action for Transparency (A4T) project piloted in Embakasi sub-county within Nairobi County aimed at empowering citizens to monitor the use of public resources at public primary schools and report suspected mismanagement of funds. The project makes use of a set of secure tools including carrying out a Public Expenditure Tracking Survey (PETS) to collect financial information from public primary schools for dissemination to the public through the use of mobile and web based platforms.

PETS is a process used to track the flow of resources through various strata of government in order to determine how much of the originally allocated public resources reach each level. A PETS tool is designed to study the flow of public funds across various levels of administrative units with a view of identifying the sources of revenue, any leakages in flow of funds and utilization at the institutional level. The use of PETS helps in identifying hidden sources of revenue, identify leakages in flow of resources and determine instances of misappropriation of public funds meant for development.

Within the land sector, TI-Kenya has engaged in initiatives aimed at securing public land belonging to public schools. This has been made possible through a network of organisations known as ‘Shule Yangu’ Alliance.  The Shule Yangu Alliance for the protection of public schools is a nationwide campaign by stakeholders from the Government, Public and Private sector working together to protect public schools against illegal land-grabbers, support the government to issue title-deeds to public schools, and support communities to own their schools.

TI-Kenya also engaged stakeholders within the education in accessing information in relation to utilisation of public funds and safeguarding public resources at the schools. Among the stakeholders engaged include the management at the schools including head teachers, Boards of Management, Parents’ Associations and the sub-county and county officials.

Summary of findings

The findings discussed in this policy brief cover three general areas of concern including: public participation and involvement; resource flow and utilisation of public resources including public land belonging to learning institutions; and the role of school programmes in enhancing Constitutionally recognised national values.

Public participation and involvement

It was generally established that public participation and involvement in the affairs of public primary schools is accomplished through the Boards of Management (BoM) and Parents Associations (PAs) as per legal requirements. It was however noted that these groups are not adequately capacitated to effectively participate and contribute to the affairs of the schools especially in relation to utilisation of public resources. At the centre of the lack of capacity for effective participation is the inadequacy of information necessary for the public to be involved in the development affairs of the schools. School managements have grappled with the need to fully involve management committees and parents in the development process but this has largely been hampered mainly by the following factors:

  • Inefficient accounting systems which rely on manual processes that are time consuming and prone to errors;
  • Poor book keeping practises which make it difficult to retrieve required information and present information in a presentable and easily accessible manner;
  • Lack of administrative support staff especially such as school bursars to handle accounts and advice BoMs on prudent use of funds received by the schools;
  • Inadequate ICT infrastructure for record keeping and dissemination of information relating to the schools to the management committees and other stakeholders including parents and development partners;

The study has established that there is a data gap on expenditure at school level. The scarcity of information and its inaccessibility to the general public produce opportunity for corruption. Without comprehensive financial data it is not possible to have any civilian oversight. Public participation and involvement in affairs of the public is a Constitutional requirement which is supported by the legal framework for the education sector establishing Boards of Management and Parents’ Associations involved in management of learning institutions. To effectively ensure that the participatory legal framework works out, the need for access to information is paramount.

Resource flow and utilisation

School managements confirmed that the system of disbursing money directly to schools is generally effective. However, the study established that the most common challenge in disbursements from the government is the delay in funds remittance which sometimes takes up to two months after schools have opened. Further, the findings indicate that various education stakeholders including the Ministry of Education officials were questioning the use of money by schools especially on the high recurrent costs for purchase of textbooks.

The study established that some challenges resulting in vulnerabilities of the schools to mismanagement of funds include:

  • Poor record keeping, poor accounting systems and procedures;
  • Community/parents limited commitment and capacity to monitor and control the use of school funds;
  • Weak supervision, accounting and monitoring systems, and lack of effective auditing and supervision;
  • Inflexible budgeting process in recognition of the different needs at different schools leading to inadequate funding;
  • It was also established that other sources of funding for the schools in addition to the Free Primary Education funds from Government are not properly recorded and accounted for;
  • Infrastructural failures at majority of the schools that do not inspire confidence in the education system by both the learners and other stakeholders involved in identifying skills useful for different sectors;
  • Delay in disbursement of funds from Government was identified as a challenge in effective utilisation of resources and coordinated development activities at the schools.

The efficiency of the education sector was also brought to sharp focus in view of the amount of resources dedicated to the sector which do not correspond to the quality of services.

Promotion of national values

The National Values enshrined under Article 10 of the Constitution are not generally reflected in the primary, secondary and tertiary curriculum and practices at learning institutions. There has however been marked improvement in entrenching some of the values under the Constitution in learning institutions especially in relation to creating governance structures which allow for students’ participation. Existing courses and programmes have however been found to fall short in the following areas:

  • Fostering nationalism, patriotism and promoting national unity;
  • Recognising diversity of skills and talents and promoting the progressive identification and mentoring of talents;
  • Establishing effective mentorship programmes in professional and social spaces;
  • Promoting novelty, innovation and self-reliance where learners are able to identify the importance of intellectual ownership;
  • Promoting transparency and accountability in management of learning institutions

Policy Recommendations

The government through the Ministry of Education Science and Technology should put in place deliberate measures that aim at ensuring that there are transparent and accountable management processes in learning institutions with adequate measures for public participation and involvement.

Use of ICT for school management

ICT has been identified as a key enabler in the efficient and effective delivery of services. This study recommends the roll out of a web based school management system that shall incorporate the financial management issues and the academic reporting systems of the schools. To increase access, the system should be accessible both on desktop computers and on mobile phones.  This would enable head teachers maintain up to date books of accounts, reduce the demand for auditing of schools and increase accountability.

Capacity building

The Constitution and other enabling laws in the education sector provide for a participatory legal framework centred on the participation and involvement of management committees and parents’ associations in the management of learning institutions. The BoMs and Parents’ Associations need enhanced capacity building to effectively take up this mandate and also incorporate the participation of the greater public in managing affairs of learning institutions.

There is need to develop participatory mechanisms and sensitise citizens including parents so that they may effectively play their oversight role in the provision of Free Primary Education. This includes sensitization on provisions of policies and provisions in legislations such as the Basic Education Act, 2012. Parents and guardians also need to be sensitised on their legal obligations in ensuring that they promote the right to education for their children. This includes their role in providing pupils with conducive social environment for upright upbringing, provision of school implements including uniforms and sending pupils to school.

Needs based budgeting

The study recommends a review of the budgeting process at the schools to include a standardised needs assessment of all public learning institutions. A needs assessment spearheaded by the management committees and the sub-county education officials will be useful in determining the infrastructural needs of all schools which may be quantified in monetary terms and the allocations for funds adjusted to reflect the needs of particular schools. This assessment should inform the allocation of funds under the GPA account on the Repairs, Maintenance and Infrastructure vote head which have generally been found to be inadequate.

Timely release of FPE funds

The National Government through the National Treasury should ensure timely release of funds meant for the provision of FPE services as delay in the release of funds affects the quality of services offered at the schools and relations with suppliers. To mitigate the challenges faced with delayed disbursements, respondents recommend the disbursements of funds to the schools during the holidays to allow proper planning and expenditure of the funds as the terms commence.

Enhance accounting and audit systems and processes

The study also recommends that Sub-County Education departments should have the capacity to conduct audits in the schools under their jurisdiction through a continuous monitoring process that enables supervisors at the sub-county level execute timely remedial measures. Government policy should make the Sub-County Education Boards more active in monitoring public service delivery in public schools especially in relation to utilisation of FPE funds and general management of learning institutions.

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about the launch – Embakasi

Borgstam

On the 16th day of May 2015, the residents of Embakasi Constituency, Nairobi, welcomed Pawa Initiative along with its partners, Fojo Media Institute, and Transparency International Kenya (TIK), to Kariobangi North Social Grounds for the launch of the Action for Transparency (A4T) project. The launch was the culmination of about 2 months of preliminary activities, which, among other things, involved the set-up of the Kenya A4T office in Kariobangi North and a number of outreach visits to neighbourhoods in Embakasi. Guests in attendance were the Uganda & Zambia A4T delegation and Swedish Embassy representatives together with the Swedish Ambassador, Johan Borgstam, who was the guest of honour.

Brian Inganga, photos
Brian Inganga, photos

The Action for Transparency (A4T) project is a social accountability project in public health and education making its debut in Kenya after a 3 year run in Uganda and Zambia. The project commenced in Kenya in March 2015 during which the A4T team began outreach visits in a number of neighbourhoods in Embakasi; Kwa Mola (Molem), Dandora, Kware, Karsan, Kariobangi North and South. These outreach visits were done in order to map the social resources in the area as well as scout for creative potential in the area.

The project seeks to engage the residents to hold themselves and their government accountable to the delivery of services in the areas of public health and education.

Three primary approaches would be employed by the project to facilitate this; the use of mobile phone tools such as a smart phone app that maps out resources in these 2 key sectors of public services in a way that allows any user to obtain the relevant information and report anonymously as well when need be. Coupled with this would be an SMS short-code and toll free line easily accessible to those who own basic feature phones. Lastly, on the technical front, would be the online platforms – a website and social media connections – where the community can further engage in open discussions, information sharing, and reporting that is pertinent to the project objectives.

Brian Inganga, photos
Brian Inganga, photos

The tools for reporting would then be made accessible to residents of Embakasi through a series of trainings, which form the second facet of the project. Residents will also be trained on how to escalate corruption related issues from the grassroots to relevant authorities and various forms of community organizing and action, calling for the provision of the very same services in public health and education.

The last facet of the project would involve public awareness campaigns on social accountability, more specifically, galvanizing the work of creatives in the area who use their work to address social issues. This will be done in collaboration with existing groups and individuals involved in similar work facilitated through a grants program.

Given the very visual nature of the project, Pawa Initiative was enlisted as a partner having its core strength in creative work evidenced by the fiery launch that had many artists performing in between the programmed speeches. Among others, artist who performed were Octave Band, Sirikal, Daniel Onyango, Japolo, Kpack & Eidala with the last performance being graciously executed by the popular SARABI band whose drum beats reversed the rain back to the sky. A live graffiti installation also run concurrently in the background as the event went on again reemphasizing the very important role of art in social change work. The effects of the launch were immediate with many in attendance asking when the app for reporting would be ready and others asking how they could get involved.

Brian Inganga, photos
Brian Inganga, photos

The launch was the beginning of a relationship between the people of Embakasi and the A4T team that would lead to harmonized service delivery from the government to its people. Nothing summed up the event more than the words from the Swedish Ambassador, who, during his speech, reminded the residents of the area to hold themselves and the A4T team accountable as much as they hoped to hold the government accountable. Governments, afterall, are the people.

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Action for Transparency Launched in Kenya

A4T Launch 2015

During an event full of music and enthusiasm Action for Transparency (A4T) was launched in Kenya. Now the work begins to ensure that public funds really reach the health centres and schools in the wider Embakasi district in Nairobi – putting the power of change in the hands of the citizens.

“We are here today because the fight against corruption is a fight for a better future for all Kenyans. Corruption kills Kenyan mothers every day, corruption kills Kenyan policemen. Development will not happen in Kenya unless the battle against corruption is won,” said the Swedish Ambassador and guest of honour, Johan Borgstam.

The transparency and accountability programme A4T is run by the Pawa Initiative and Transparency International Kenya, (TIK). It is managed by Fojo Media Institute and funded by the Embassy of Sweden.

The launch was held at the Kariobangi North Social Grounds in Embakasi, close to the newly opened A4T office in the area. Pawa Initiative, TIK and the staff at the A4T office will work with public awareness and training of journalists, activists, community leaders and civil servants. Data about how much money government have distributed to schools and health centres will be retrieved, and community members will be engaged to take active part in monitoring their schools and health centres – to check how much different units really have received.

Samuel Kimeu, Executive Director of TIK, reminded the audience of the whistleblower policy principles:

“Every person in the public and the private sector has a responsibility to report suspected wrongdoing.”

Suspected mismanagement can be reported through a smart phone app. It will also be possible to report via sms text messages and a toll free phone number. Journalists will receive training in how to use the A4T platform so that they can produce articles about corruption

Artists from Kariobangi entertained, including the Octave Band, Sirikali and Daniel Onyago. The event ended with the popular band Sarabi, which will play at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark this summer. A4T is already up and running in Uganda and Zambia, and representatives from the teams in those countries attended the launch in Kenya.

Photos: Brian Inganga
Photos: Brian Inganga

On a wall next to the stage a beautiful graffiti painting was created by several artists, depicting functioning schools and health centres that receive the funding they are entitled to.

When the then head of Pawa254, Boniface Mwangi, entered, he started by asking the children to come close to the stage – which they happily did, cheering as they rushed forward. Then he told the audience why the fight against corruption is so important:

“The future of our children will be defined by the choices we make today. Do something to make Kenya better – have courage.”

Text: Anki Wood, Project Manager, Fojo

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Accountability

Fight corruption with a single click

A4T app

Action for Transparency is a pioneering project that fights corruption and mismanagement of government funds by putting the power to change in the hands of citizens.

Using a mobile phone with Internet access, anyone is able to check the amount of government money pledged to each school and health clinic – and the amount actually spent. If you don’t have a smartphone, the same application can be used from any computer (actionfortransparency.org).

ZA education Pic GPESarah Beeching 2
Doughlas Buule, teacher, was forced to buy chalk for education for his own money. Picture: GPE/Sarah Beeching

Do you want to check how much money the government is supposed to spend on your children’s school? Download the app – or go to the website – and click on your school to see the sum officially budgeted for it as well as other useful information.

You may find that the amount pledged for your school does not match with reality. For instance, is there only one teacher even though the Government says it is funding five? Are there no schoolbooks even though the government has budgeted for one book for each pupil?

Armed with this information, you can report any suspected corruption straight into your mobile phone. Your report will be published immediately on the Action for Transparency website and on Facebook. Related projects and reports will be and possibly featured on the Transparency International’s website. If you don’t have access to the Internet, it is also possible to report using sms or calling a hotline number.

ZA Hospital Pic Albert González 2
Many hospitals do not have the resources to provide patients with proper treatment. Picture: Albert González

The app, websites connected to it and the Facebook site will also provide a digital space for informed debates about corruption and misuse of tax payers’ money. The debates are open to everyone who wants to contribute including human rights activists, citizens, politicians, journalists and civil servants.

Thousands of journalists, civil society activists and civil servants are being trained to access, assess and communicate information on government budgeting, primarily using online sources to improve understanding of government budgeting processes. How much is intended for schools and health clinics? And how can the system be improved, providing more resources to schools and health clinics? And how can suspected corruption be tracked?

Using the app, Facebook and the virtual network created in the project, the trained journalists, civil society activists and community leaders join in a public awareness campaign. The aim is to fight corruption and mismanagement of public funds for schools and health clinics and to ensure that tax payers’ money reaches the people it is intended for: the teachers, school children, doctors, nurses and their patients.

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