Government plans to raise university fees
Parents with students in universities and those scheduled to sit national examinations should brace for a heavier financial burden following a proposal by the National Treasury for a review of fees in the education sector.
Treasury wants only candidates who cannot afford to pay examination fees to get government funding, contrary to the current situation where all candidates have their exam fees paid for from the public coffers.
In a report, Treasury says although the government waived payment of examination fees for all candidates in both primary and secondary schools, including private institutions, the waiver did not take into consideration individual’s ability to pay thus benefiting even those who could meet the cost.
“The waiver will cater for those who have no ability to pay. Others will have to pay for the examinations starting this financial year,” reads the report.
In the proposed review, Treasury wants money allocated for this purpose to cater for vulnerable students while those capable required to pay for the exams.
In university education, Treasury also wants government sponsorship to cater only for students who cannot afford the fees.
“The fees paid by the government-sponsored students have not been adjusted for over 20 years, despite the fact that the institutions are currently facing huge financial problems,” Treasury says in a proposal to Parliament.
To create fiscal space in the universities, Treasury proposes that policies be reviewed so that only the most vulnerable students get financial support.
Further, the Treasury is calling for the decentralisation of purchase of books for both primary and secondary schools.
National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani says such book purchase policy should be reversed in the short run.
“Reversal of this policy in the short run will restore businesses to small traders and the jobs associated with them,” reads the report.
The Ministry of Education will, therefore, be required to forward funds for purchase of books to schools.
The Kenya Union of Teachers, through its Secretary General Wilson Sossion, is opposed to the centralisation of purchasing of books arguing that the move was informed by cartels out to swindle money in the books distribution process at the expense of quality education.
“It was totally wrong to centralise the procurement and supply of books. This is a plan to steal public money,” Sossion said recently.
He has also threatened to expose the people the union believes are behind the teething problems that have affected distribution of books to schools.