Deputy President William Ruto has kept alive the Jubilee administration’s pledge for free secondary education, announcing on Wednesday that the government will put up more classrooms at a cost of Sh50 billion from January to accommodate the expected increase in enrolment.
Mr Ruto, who was on the campaign trail in Vihiga County, his second tour of the region in a month, said the programme is in line with the pledge by the ruling Jubilee Party to pay tuition fees for all students in secondary school.
“From next year, we will start constructing additional classrooms in our secondary schools due to the expected increase in enrolment,” said Mr Ruto at a rally at Matsigulu, off Mbale town. “This will cost us Sh50 billion.
“From next year, we will start paying tuition fees for all students in secondary school and, therefore, the need for more classrooms. We are doing all this to reduce the burden on parents.”
The money could be allocated over the next several fiscal years, starting with the initial Sh6 billion meant for facilities and new teachers for 90,000 more students expected to join Form One next year. Yet the government will need to work harder as it is expected thousands more will still need to be accommodated in schools if at all the programme is to take effect.
Since free primary education was launched more than a decade ago, hundreds of school leavers have missed secondary slots. In 2017, about 150,000 missed out with reasons ranging from lack of space in public schools to their inability to finance their education. Free secondary schooling, the DP argued, could cure this.
With an eye on the vote-rich region, Mr Ruto also promised that a Jubilee government will put up 70 technical training institutes (TTIs) across the country as part of a programme to boost the levels of education and expertise in the country. Each one of the TTI, he said, will cost Sh50 million.
The DP, who called on Vihiga voters to support the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta during the fresh presidential election on October 26, also pledged that the administration will set up a factory in each one of the 47 counties to guarantee employment of the TTI graduates.
“We value education,” Mr Ruto added. “We are paying examination fees on behalf of the parents. We have increased the number of homesteads connected to electricity in this county from 13,000 in 2013 to 60,000 in four years.”
Mr Ruto was hosted by former Vihiga MP Yusuf Chanzu, who decamped from Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress (ANC), and former Vihiga Governor Moses Akaranga. Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka and Water Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa accompanied the DP.
Mr Ruto sought to win the support of the county that largely supports ANC, an affiliate of the opposition coalition National Super Alliance (Nasa).
While supporting the amendments to the election laws that were recently tabled in Parliament by Jubilee, Mr Ruto asked the electorate to shun Mr Mudavadi for the ruling party.
On Thursday, President Kenyatta will start a four-day, five-county campaign blitz.
The President, who has been meeting delegations in State House, will be seeking to rally support for his re-election in Gusiiland, central Kenya and at the Coast as the battle for State House intensifies between him and his rival Raila Odinga of Nasa.
The President, who will visit Kisii, Nyamira, Nyandarua, Meru and Mombasa counties, will be in Kisii and Nyamira on Thursday in a bid to hive off the region from Mr Odinga’s grip.
On Friday, he will be in his stronghold of Meru and on Saturday attend the Catholic Church’s national prayer day at the Subukia Shrine in Nyandarua before ending the whistle-stop campaign tour in Mombasa on Sunday.
In 2013, President Kenyatta had almost a third of his 181, 961 total votes from Nyanza, majority being from Gusii.
In the August 8 presidential polls that were annulled by the Supreme Court, President Kenyatta garnered 106,894 votes (52.07 per cent of the votes cast) in Nyamira while in Kisii he got 175,415 votes (43.22 per cent), a staggering improvement.
On Friday, President Kenyatta will return to his stronghold of Meru where he has brokered an unlikely truce between bitter rivals Governor Kiraitu Murungi and the man he trounced in the polls, Peter Munya.
Mr Munya had defected to Mr Odinga’s Nasa but had a change of heart and has since vowed to work with Mr Murungi to shore up support for President Kenyatta.
The Head of State will on Saturday join other faithful for the Catholic Church’s national prayer day at the Subukia Shrine in Nyandarua County.
From Nyandarua, the President will take his re-election campaigns to the Coast region starting with a meet-the-people tour of Mombasa County on Sunday.
“During the tours, the President will reiterate his message and vision of unity and transformation agenda that will guarantee a free, equitable, stable, inclusive and prosperous Kenya,” State House Spokesman Manoah Esipisu said in a statement.
He went on: “He will also urge Kenyans to turn up in large numbers again to cast their votes to reconfirm their choice after the Supreme Court annulled his August 8 election victory without contesting the fact that he won with a significant majority.”
Last week, President Kenyatta visited the Western Kenya counties of Busia, Bungoma and Kakamega.
Additional Reporting by Patrick Langat