Nearly a half of primary schools teachers in Kenya do not attend classes and this costs the country Sh27 billion a year, a report by the Education Commission has revealed.
The report also says that about 16 per cent of teachers do not report to school at all.
This means that out of about 200,000 teachers in primary schools, more than 30,000 teachers do not go to school while about 90,000 who go to school do not go to class to teach.
The report observed that teachers take up the largest single expenditure in education budgets, accounting for up to 90 per cent of recurrent costs in some countries.
In Kenya, the teacher’s employer – the Teachers Service Commission – was, in the current financial year, allocated Sh194 billion, with most of it going to teachers’ salaries.
“Increasing the number of hours of actual instructional time is one of the most effective ways to improve learning.
“But teachers are too often not in school or not teaching because they are expected to perform non-teaching tasks (such as fundraising or administration), because they need to travel to receive their pay or attend training courses which could have been delivered locally, or because they are subject to poor or non-existent management and supervision,” notes the report.
The report adds that books are among the most effective investments to increase learning outcomes.
It noted that in many Sub-Saharan African countries, Kenya included, there is little funding for textbooks, which are too pricy, unavailable to many students or poorly used.
The report reveals that books in Kenya cost 50 per cent more [than average], because Kenyan publishers deliver them through middlemen whereas publishers in Rwanda, for example, deliver them directly to schools.
“Involving communities to help oversee the distribution of textbooks can help to reduce losses. Opening up the bidding process can lower costs,” notes the report.
Already Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i has announced plans to review the distribution of textbooks in schools after it emerged that most school heads are not buying books.
The report proposes that low-income countries should dedicate up to five per cent of their national incomes to education, in order to facilitate their transition to high-income status and safeguard young people’s chances in the workplace.
It notes that neglect of the education sector is the biggest challenge that countries will face over the next 15 years, adding that besides spending more than the current three per cent of their national incomes on education, all schools need to go digital.