Schools told to refund second, third term fees
Parents, guardians and sponsors who had paid school fees for the entire academic year can rest easy after the government ordered institutions to refund them.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha yesterday directed primary and secondary schools headteachers to refund fees for second and third terms to the parents who had already paid, following the government decision not to reopen schools until next year.
Magoha said headteachers and affected parents could come into agreement on having money already paid carried forward to next year.
He was, however, categorical that no parent would be refunded first term fees or have it carried over to next year as it had already been spent.
“The first term fees was spent so do not even think we are going to sit down with you (parents) on this issue; that will not be there,” Magoha, who spoke in Taita Taveta county, said.
He explained that since schools did not reopen for the second term due to the coronavirus pandemic, any fees, which had been paid in advance, would either be refunded or carried over to next year’s second term.
“For second term, if you had paid earlier, it will be refunded to you or go into an account for second term… I do not know why Kenyans are complicated people. It is simple and straightforward,” said the CS.
The minister said heads of schools were at liberty to engage parents and explain whatever projects the schools could have utilised the fees already paid so that they could get necessary approval.
“If there are issues that happened in a particular school that requires parents to sit down together with the headteacher and he convinces them that they have run a project, they should discuss it and approve,” he said.
He likened deliberations on school fees to instances of calamities in schools where headteachers seek consent from parents on the way forward.
“If for any particular reason there was a calamity, for example, in a school and the headteacher had to do something that requires endorsement he would sit down and agree,” Magoha said.
His remarks came a day after he announced that all primary and secondary schools will reopen in January next year.
The country will have to come to terms with the ‘new normal’ caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which saw all learning institutions closed in mid March, three weeks before the first term could be concluded.
The unexpected postponement of the reopening date from the earlier proposed September to January 2021 has left many parents who had paid fees for the second and third terms wondering whether they would be refunded. Many parents have also complained about the financial burden of keeping learners at home for the rest of the year.
Speaking separately, Kenya Private Schools Association (KPSA) chief executive Peter Ndoro said it will not be possible to refund an overpayment since money paid as schools fees is planned for “to the letter”.
He, however, assured parents who had paid fees for the second and third terms in advance that it would be carried over to next year.
“School fees is a private affair for parents and they decide how to pay it and we want to assure them that it will not disappear. If they had paid for second or even third term, it will be pushed to when schools resume; this will just be an agreement between teachers and parents,” said Ndoro.
“We are reasonable people and any amount overpaid will be factored in,” he added. He lamented that the education sector and private schools, in particular, were the biggest losers of the coronavirus pandemic that has disrupted livelihoods across the country and the world. “Private schools have closed and the magnitude of the situation is worsening, we are not sure whether we will manage our teaching and non-teaching staff beyond August,” he regretted.
He, however, concurred with the decision not to reopen schools until next year, saying it was intended to protect lives of learners and school staff in the wake of rising numbers of coronavirus cases.
Amani National Congress (ANC) party leader Musalia Mudavadi also welcomed the move to alter the academic calendar, saying it was the only way forward. Mudavadi said parents and learners now have a clear picture of the new academic calendar which will go a long way in planning how to recover lost time when schools reopen in January.
“Education is a very critical sector and the ministry has to demonstrate the highest levels of planning and informed action as a way of setting the bar for other sectors as opposed to making lone ranger decrees and approach to issues,” Mudavadi, said in a statement.
Yesterday, Magoha said Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVETs) will be expected to resume teaching on September 1.
He said the ministry will continue inspecting the status of the institutions to ensure they comply with ministry of Health protocols for the safety of learners.
“TVETs will start with examination classes and continue on with others. From our perspectives and since our academic units will decide which ones to open and close first as they alter, it is possible that TVETs will be able to open,” noted the CS.
The institutions, he said, will be used as case studies to see how they will cope with the Covid-19 situation, and depending on by their experience, the ministry will decide whether it would take the risk with pupils in reopening options.