Do not burden parents with illegal school fees

Thursday, August 12th, 2021 00:00 |
Pupils in class. Photo/Courtesy

Parents have been raising concerns over a number of issues since schools reopened for the 2021 academic calendar two weeks ago.

Concerns range from children in Early Years Education (EYE) being required to buy dozens of text books worth thousands of shillings, to high school fees, remedial cash, lunch levies and dubious monies disguised as “curriculum development fee”.

This is a clear illegality because curriculum development is a function of the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development with teachers as implementers, It has also been painful for parents who will be forced to pay school fees four times this year amidst the harsh economic times occasioned by Covid-19.

First term of the 2021 academic year commenced on July 26 and in two weeks, the learners will break for half term.

They will then resume learning after a three-day break, stay in school for one month and from October 11, another round of paying school fees will come as second term commences.

Perhaps in realisation of the tight and reduced academic calendar, the government intervened to cushion parents.

One of the measures it took was to review fees for secondary schools downwards, which was a benefit for learners who had just joined Form One.

The government reduced school fees for those joining national schools by Sh8,500 from the initial Sh53,000 and Sh5,550 for the rest of the secondary schools.

But the Education Ministry has indicated it continues to receive complaints from parents regarding schools charging illegal levies.

It is against this backdrop that the ministry directed the schools to refund any fees collected above the revised guidelines or treated as prepayment of fees for continuing students.

Principals have stated they will follow the directive but indicated that it might be difficult to refund hard cash.

They have agreed to write an acknowledgment slip for those who had paid Sh53,000 to show that the extra money will be carried forward to the next academic year.

We insist that this pledge should not be taken lightly and must be followed through.

The Basic Education Regulations (2015) are clear about free and compulsory education and Section 44 states that no public school or institution should issue alternative fees structures other than those approved by the relevant Cabinet Secretary.

The ministry should ensure this is fully implemented and that the directive it issued on extra school fees is not reduced to just another circular.

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