Data from Kenya’s Ministry of Education shows that the government has paid school fees of 4 million non-existent public primary school students in 2017 under the Free Primary Education (FPE) programme introduced in 2003.
According to local news portal The Standard, the current total enrollment of pupils in public primary schools stands at 8.9 million while the ongoing registration of students under the new National Education Information Management System (Nemis) only captured 4.9 million children.
This means the government is paying an extra Sh5.6 billion ($55 million) for the 4 million ghost students as each child is allocated Sh1, 420 ($14) per year under the FPE.
Education officials told The Standard that the discrepancy could be attributed to the ongoing Nemis registration which requires a birth certificate to be enlisted. However, they noted that it was unlikely that four million people who haven’t registered lacked birth certificates.
The unnamed officials pointed out to claims in the past that head teachers usually inflated the figures of students in their schools to get more money. An audit is likely to be conducted at the end of the Nemis registration in order to find the culprits.
Nemis registration opened in January and will end April 30 to capture data of all students from nursery school to the university level. Each student will be given a six-character Unique Personal Identifier (UPI) which will be used throughout their education.
“It has been noted that the process has been slowed down by the fact that most learners were yet to acquire birth certificates that were required for the registration. We encourage schools to continuously accurately update their student and staff data to the Nemis environment,” said Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed.
The programme was established to eliminate ghost learners, teachers and lecturers, forgery of academic certificates and mushrooming of illegal institutions.