No learner should miss class over fees, says CS

Friday, November 20th, 2020 00:00 |
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha addressing journalists at Kosawo Primary School in Kisumu after assessing the delivery of desks. Photo/PD/VIOLA KOSOME

Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha yesterday ordered head teachers not to send learners home over school fees.

Magoha said the government was determined to ensure that students recover the lost time occasioned by coronavirus pandemic and that   no child is sent home because of school fees.

 “I would like to firmly plead with our teachers that they have no permission from anybody to send a child home because of school fees.

Every child must be considered as a special case during this difficult time,” Magoha said when he witnessed delivery of desks to schools in Kisumu.

“We have received reports of some children being sent home and yet they are examination candidates.

The government considers this unacceptable therefore teachers are hereby directed to ensure that no child who has lost time is sent home for fees,” he stated.

The Minister reiterated that every child must be considered as a special case and the circumstances leading to their failure to pay fees analysed on a case by case basis.

Magoha also said the government will consider transferring extra food from certain schools to support the feeding programmes in institutions experiencing shortages.

“I would want Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (KSSHA) Chairman Kahi Indimuli to find out from his members, there must be principals with extra food they are about to give to the children who are at home as we directed… can this be stopped for the time being as we make sure that no children are sent home in terms of fees,” said the CS.

He reiterated that the government had released school capitation funds to facilitate the running of the institutions and ensure students are retained to continue learning uninterrupted.

“Can we agree to discuss issues of school fees as long as the child is at school and is not losing any more time? So, let us not hear that someone has sent them home.

I have been told that someone has sent 45 children home, that cannot be our teacher because our teachers do not do that,” Magoha said.

He appeared to be alluding to a tweet by Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua detailing how he came to the rescue of a Form Four student Philomena Mutheu, who had been sent home for school fees alongside 45 others.

Mutua noted: “I have cleared her fees balance of Sh26,958 so that she gets back to school. She is now back in school and in class.

I established that her case is genuine and not a fabrication as some people had purported.

I commend her courage to pen her desperate situation and expose her suffering publicly.”

Mutua said he had conducted investigations and established that the school administration had sent home Philomena and 45 other girls for lack of school, a trend he said was happening all over the country.

“I have held a lengthy conversation with the Principal of the school, Madam Lillian Ireri, who has confirmed that Philomena was among 45 students from her school who were sent home due to lack of fees on November 6.

She said she took this action, despite the call by the National Government saying no student should be sent home, because after that announcement, there was a shift in the position after no money came from the Education ministry,” Mutua said in a statement.

And speaking in Kisumu County to assess the desks delivery exercise to several schools, Prof Magoha reiterated that the ministry will ensure the desks are delivered promptly before full reopening in January next year.

He, however, asked parents to be ready to shoulder second term fees for their children by January.

“I have started to hear murmurs here and there but let me be clear on this, we had said that the first term was complete and I am talking about boarding so we expect our parents to struggle when we open in January to pay fees for the second term… there is no argument there,” the CS stated.

He said the government’s instructions have been very clear that as parents struggle to pay fees, they should also be sincere so that those who can pay in full or in bits should do so but schools should be willing to listen to those who cannot pay anything.

At the same time, he took a swipe at those criticising the new school calendar, saying the decision to come up with the revised school calendar was unanimously agreed on after thorough education stakeholders’ consultation.

“The way the timetable has been brought was not by Magoha, Magoha is only the face of the government and my instructions were to meet the stakeholders.

Those criticising the new calendar, if they have another system they think can save the year, they should tell us,” the CS said. 

-Reporting by Noven Owiti and Irene Githinji

But speaking separately, Kenya Primary Schools Heads Association (Kepsha) Chairman Nicholas Gathemia denied that headteachers had sent children home, especially in primary schools.

He, however, said schools are struggling because the government only disbursed capitation money meant for third term, yet there were several pending activities like paying non-teaching staff for almost seven months.

“Some of us are being forced to go back to our own pockets to cater for some of these things.

In primary, nobody can dare send children home or ask parents for money so we have to make do with the little we have… we are really struggling,” said Gathemia.

Gathemia said schools received 30 per cent of capitation funds when they resumed last month.

Capitation for schools is disbursed in three tranches, where first term receives 50 per cent while second and third term gets 30 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.

More on News