School heads defy Magoha, send learners home for fees

Sunday, October 17th, 2021 00:00 |
Secondary school students head back to school last week. Some institutions have send learners back home to collect fees arrears. Photo/File

Barely a week after schools re-opened for the second term, some of the institutions have send learners home due to fees arrears despite the government’s directive that no student should be sent home.

While a number of schools sent messages to parents informing them that their children would be sent home this week, others had already released pupils to go home and collect fees.

Speaking to People Daily yesterday, a number of parents, who did not want to be named due to fear of victimisation, said they had received text messages from school heads informing them that their children would be sent home.

“The fees we paid last term could have catered for part of this second term as students were only in school for two months,” said Moses Masinde, a parent.

Among the schools that have sent fees arrears messages to parents include Kakamega High School, St Joseph High School Githunguri and Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nayan High School.

A number of schools in the Coast region and Kakamega, Nakuru and Kiambu counties have already sent learners home.

“Dear Parent/ Guardian, your son will be coming home on 29th October 2021 because of unpaid fees for term II 2021.

Kindly make arrangements to clear this outstanding fee before that day. Kindly ignore this SMS if you have paid term II fees.

Thank you. Chief Principal,” reads a message sent to a parent in Kakamega High School.

Huge debts

“Dear parents, your son will be sent home tomorrow 19.10.21 for fee balance. Principal St. Joseph Githurai,” reads another message.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has warned school heads against sending students home due to fees arrears.

“It is Illegal for schools to send students home, for whatever reason. Whether it is fee arrears or not. Such errant teachers should be reported to the ministry,” Magoha stated.

But some public schools say they have no choice because they are facing a cash crunch.

School heads who did not want to be named said non-payment of fees was costing schools heavily, adding that they had debts running into millions of shillings.

People Daily has established that in some schools, the total fees arrears are as high as Sh15 million.

“If one class alone has arrears of six million what about the whole school, we are running on almost nothing, debts are everywhere. Tell me how you can run a shell,” said one school head.

Schools that have not send learners home are said to have opted to directly communicate with parents and compel them to set deadlines for clearing the fees.

“We have been invited for a parents day in school with the top agenda being clearance of our children’s fees. I think this is nobler than sending them home,” said James Kuria, a parent.

In Bungoma, schools that have sent home students home due to arrears include Moi Girls Kamusinga, St Cecilia Girls Misikhu, Cardinal Otunga Girls, St Luke’s Kimilili Boys, Chesamisi Boys and Bokoli Boys.

While calling on the government to intervene, parents told school heads not to take advantage of the squeezed calendar to fleece them.

In Nakuru County, Workers Secondary School send home students just days after reopening.

All students

According to parents, the institution had directed parents to clear fees arrears before students are allowed back to school.

“They said the school has no funds. I feel overwhelmed since we only had one week to look for fees when they closed,” said one of the parents.

Efforts to reach the school’s head on phone did not succeed as our calls went unanswered.

In Kisumu, students of Nativity of Lady in Butere and Moi Girls Vokoli High in Vihiga County were spotted in bus termini heading home.

A Form Three student told People Daily that nearly all students in the school with fee arrears had gone back home.

She said she had Sh18,000 arrears. Most of the learners had fee balances ranging between Sh10,000 and Sh20,000, she said.

In Lambwe Secondary School in Suba North sub-county, Homa Bay County, many students had been released to collect fees.

A Form Two student at the institution said he had been sent home for Sh12,000 fees balance.

In the Coast region, parents are asking the government to intervene.

“It’s the first week and children are already back home. Tell me, what are we supposed to do as parents?

The terms are too short and very few can save for school fees,” said Hezron Dida.

The situation is worse in famine-stricken areas of Ganze and Magarini constituencies.

“My two children have been sent home in the first week of opening,” Edward Kalama, a parent in Kilifi, told People Daily.

In Mombasa, some schools, both public and private, have issued a warning that students could be sent home this week should they not clear second term fees.

“The deadline for fee payment is on October 28, 2021. For those who will not have cleared the fees by then, the school will have no option but to ask the students to remain home until they get the fees,” reads a letter from Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nayan High School.

Shimo La Tewa High School Principal Mutiso Mbinda said they are sometimes forced by circumstances to send students home.

“You are supposed to feed them and all that and then their parents are not paying. It is a very complicated situation and you are left wondering what to do,” said Mbinda. — Reporting by Roy Lumbe, Yusuf Masibo, Viola Kosome, Reuben Mwambingu and Noven Owiti

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