The Government of Kenya presents the goal of the education sector as that of increasing access to education and training; improving quality and relevance of education; reducing inequality as well as leveraging on knowledge and skills in science, technology, and innovation for global competitiveness.

The journey towards the attainment of this goal can be measured by analyzing domestic financing towards the sector.

The Global Campaign for Education (GCE) approaches domestic financing from the perspective of the 4 ‘S’, with the need to increase the SHARE, SENSITIVITY SCRUTINY, and SIZE of Education budgets and spending while making the observation that all these four components are interlinked.

Looked at from the SHARE angle, the allocation to the education sector in Kenya as a percentage of allocation per sector has been on a steady increase for the last six financial years (FY) reaching, Ksh473B (26%) in FY 2019-2020.

94% of the education budget goes towards recurrent expenditures

The education 2030 Framework for Action recommends a minimum spending of overall government of between 15-20% for education. For the case of Kenya, this has been attained for the past 6 financial years. Generally, even with the recommended share of a minimum of 20% by the Global Campaign for Education (GCE), Kenya is still in good standing with regards to the SHARE component except for FY 2014-2015 where the allocation was at 17%. Kenya is also in good standing in relation to its pledge that it made during the Global financial replenishment conference held in Dakar Senegal in February 2018. However, it is important to point out that the bulk of the budget allocation given to the Education sector goes towards recurrent expenditure. For example; In the current FY2019/2020; 26% has been allocated to the sector broken into 24.4% recurrent (about 94%) while 1.6 %( about 6%) development

A positive report on the aspect of SENSITIVITY and SCRUTINY

A review of the areas addressed by the education budget especially in the medium term helps us measure the components of SENSITIVITY and SCRUTINY.

During the medium period of between FY 2015/16-2017/18, the education budget was targeted to address the following areas;

  1. Funding of Free Primary Education (FPE)
  2. Funding of Free day secondary School (FDSE)
  3. Recruitment of Teachers about 5000 per financial year and promotion of some.
  4. ICT integration project; Laptop project.
  5. School feeding programme
  6. Provision of sanitary towels for girls
  7. Funding of University education and higher education loans board
  8. Providing subsidy for the Kenya National Examination Council Waiver fee
  9. Funding of Education and curriculum reforms
  10. Provision of support to vocational Training institutions.
  11. Addressing marginalized areas education issues


On SENSITIVITY, that is, considering whether the budget is addressing matters of equity, one can argue that in the referred to period, the government attempted to address the area of equity through providing equal opportunities for children to access basic education by funding the FPE and FDSE. That the budget was directed towards boosting education for children in marginalized areas and that there was support given towards the provision of sanitary towels for girls in schools also makes a case for equity hence to the component of SENSITIVITY.

Looking at the Education budget from a SCRUTINY angle; one can say that there has been transparency in terms of providing information on the areas that the budget was earmarked for use. This eases the process of tracking the budget for anyone or entity including the civil society interested in doing so.

Some of the achievements that the government has reported on having achieved during the medium term include:

  1. Increasing completion rate at primary level from 82.7 percent in 2015 to 84 percent in 2017 and increased the transition rate from primary to secondary school level from 81.9 percent in 2015 to 88 percent in 2018 January.
  2. Developing 30 curriculum designs for grade 1&2 preprimary and grade 1, 2, & 3 in lower primary in 2016/17; developed 31 curriculum designed and adopted 21 designs for Special Needs Education (SNE) 2017/18; piloted phase 1& 2 in 470 schools across the country; and finalized Competence Based Education and Training (CBET) curriculum development standards framework and developed 41 CBET curricula.
  3. Collaborating with county governments to increase ECDE centers from 40,775 to 41,779. Primary schools increased from 21,676 to 22,344, secondary schools increased from 9,942 to 10,655, registered TVET institutions increased from 874 to 1,707 and universities increased from 70 to 74.
  4. Employing 26,700 additional teachers.
  5. Increasing the Net Enrollment Ratio (NER) in Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) from 74.6 % to 76.9%, that of primary education from 88.4 % in 2015 to 91.2 % and Secondary Education from 47.8% in 2015 to 51.5% in 2017. Enrolment in public Technical and Vocational Colleges increased from 98,823 to 103,433 while that of Youth Polytechnics grew from 77,465 to 89,598 and University enrolment increased from 539,749 to 559,210.
  6. The sector developed the ECDE policy and its Service Standard Guidelines to roll out the policy to all the 47 counties. The sector also reviewed the Gender in Education and training
  7. Development of the National Education Sector Support Plan (2018-22)

Looking at these achievements vis a vis the areas that the budget sought to address suggests a positive report on the aspect of scrutiny.

Increasing the SIZE of the budget: a need for tax justice initiatives

Despite these achievements the Government has cited some challenges that it has over the period including:

  • Inadequate infrastructure owing to increased enrolment
  • Weak Technical Vocational Education and Training (TIVETS)Gender disparities especially in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands(ASAL)
  • Inadequate teachers and teacher distribution especially in ASAL areas
  • Un harmonized data management systems


For the FY 2019/20 – 2021/22 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period, the Sector has prioritized recruitment of additional teachers to support the 100 percent transition policy of the Government; continued support to Free Primary Education and Free Day Secondary Education through increased capitation; continued support to Special Needs Education (SNE) through increased capitation to SNE learners; provision of Examination Fees for all students in Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE). The Sector will also complete the ongoing construction and equipment of Technical Training Institutes (TTIs) and support university education in public and private universities in order to equip the youth with relevant skills required to drive the industrialization agenda.

Challenges as noted in the medium term period of FY: 2015/16-2017/18 as well as the needs that have been prioritized in the medium term period of FY2019/20-2021/22 make a case for initiatives directed towards addressing the SIZE of the budget; that is increasing the size of the pie through increasing the collection of tax.

Over the past 6 years the Government has had sustained underperformance of revenue collection, for instance; according to the Treasury’s budget policy statement 2019, the Kenya Revenue Authority KRA collected sh633.7Billion which is equivalent to 6.3 percent of GDP against a target of ksh 677 Billion. The shortfall was attributed to income tax from corporations which recorded negative growth. A 2009 Kenya Country Tax Justice Report by the Tax Justice Network in Kenya indicated that the tax gap in the country, the difference between potential and effectively mobilized revenue stands at 55.1%, half of this arising from untapped potential of corporate tax collection. This provides an opportunity for civil society to engage in tax justice initiatives in an attempt to increase the size of the education budget.

Increased investment through development co-operation


These gaps have necessitated donor input into the education sector. From 2005 when Kenya became a GPE partner it has received a total of about US$210million; including program implementation grant (US$121 million) between 2005 and 2008; sector plan development grant (US$250,000) in 2013 and a programme development grant (US$293,488) and currently, it has a programme implementation grant of US$88.4 million under the Kenya Primary Education Development Project (PRIEDE) covering the period 2015-2019. This is aside from the non-financial support given to the Government additionally; the Kenya Government is implementing the Secondary Education Quality Improvement Programme (SEQUIP) at an estimated cost of 200M USD and supported by the World Bank. Donor grants have gone into improving education access as well as quality. Donors have provided support to the curriculum reform agenda, provided books for early grade learning, and funded infrastructure and teacher development initiatives amongst others.

This note-withstanding, the most sustainable funding for public education remains through Tax paid to the Government hence the need for the Civil Society, including Elimu Yetu Coalition to be involved in Tax Justice Initiatives.

A recent GPE progressive Evaluation report for Kenya made the observation that there has been strong progress in the education sector over the last decade; and that there has been increased donor confidence. This has manifested through increased investment into the sector through development co-operation. This state of affairs provides the Civil Society an opportunity to engage in initiatives that contribute towards sustaining the strong progress and through initiatives that enhance accountability (SCRUTINY) and promotes inclusiveness and equity (SENSITIVITY). For this, funding is a prerequisite and opportunities as presented by the impending Advocacy and Social Accountability (ASA) Programme are very welcome.

Joseph Wasikhongo is the National Coordinator of Elimu Yetu Coalition (EYC), established in 1999 as a national platform for civil society organisations, professional groups, education/research institutions and other non-state actors in Kenya’s education sector to lobby for the implementation of the Education for All (EFA). EYC is at the forefront of supporting the Education 2030 Framework for action in Kenya towards the implementation of sustainable development Goal 4. An Alumni of Egerton and the University of Nairobi, Joseph has over 15 years of experience in the field of development and has worked at various levels including, local regional and international.

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The Global Campaign for Education (GCE) is a civil society movement that aims to end exclusion in education. Education is a basic human right, and our mission is to make sure that governments act now to deliver the right of everyone to a free, quality, public education.