Students without fees dilemma for school principals

Wednesday, August 4th, 2021 00:00 |
A parent labels a bucket for his child at Kisii School as he waits for the child to be admitted in school, yesterday. Photo/PD/ROBERT OCHORO

Secondary school head teachers have found themselves in a quagmire over the admission of students without fees as a result of the government directive that no learner should be turned away.

Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (KSSHA) yesterday protested that some parents were taking advantage of the 100 per cent transition directive and taking children to school without fees.

Association chair Kahi Indimuli said some parents were taking children for admitted to Form One without fees, even in instances where they are able to pay.

He spoke as more Form One students reported to various schools and insisted parents should pay fees on time for smooth running of institutions.

“There are those who have actually arrived in school without any money and those are some of the issues I am handling to understand what is happening so that we offer any assistance available,” Indimuli, who is the Machakos School chief principal, said as he monitored the admission.

Parents cushioned 

He told parents the government has cushioned them by reviewing fees downwards, noting that they should now show goodwill by paying what is expected of them.“Schools need money to operate.

It will be unfair if students are brought to school and fees is not paid. I want to appeal to Kenyans that schools need support.

Since we have cushioned the parents, the schools too must be cushioned,” he insisted.

Indimuli spoke as the government announced it had released Sh17.47 billion for public schools to cover the first term of the 2021 academic year, which started last week.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said in a statement yesterday the funds had been released to ensure uninterrupted learning in schools this term.

“The government has released a total of Sh17.47 billion as capitation funding to all learners.

Of this, Sh2.62 billion is meant for learners in primary schools while Sh14.85 billion is to support secondary school students,” said Prof Magoha.

With the release of the capitation funds, Magoha directed principals to keep all learners in school to ensure no class time is lost during the shortened academic calendar.

Similarly, the CS urged principals to dialogue with parents over fees balances to find practical ways of clearing any arrears.

Most importantly, Magoha directed school heads to strictly adhere to new ministry of Education guidelines on school fees that were issued based on the 30-week school calendar.

“Any additional fees outside of the official guidelines will not be tolerated,” the CS warned.

About two weeks ago, the ministry said it had reduced Form One fees owing to the revised calendar that reduced learning by nine weeks from the usual period.

He said the reduction of fees was pegged on consultations with President Uhuru Kenyatta, to which he agreed that national schools pay Sh8,500 less than usual and Sh5,500 less for the rest of secondary schools.

“We have agreed, having consulted with the President and he concurred, that we should prorate downwards because the term will be nine weeks less. The government pays for everything except for the food the child is eating while in school,” said Magoha.

At the same time, the CS praised the high turnout of Form One students who started reporting to secondary schools on Monday.

At the end of the Form One reporting exercise, he said all learners from Grade One to Form Four will be back in class for the first time since March 2020 when all schools were closed as part of government measures to control the spread of Covid-19.

“In line with the 100 per cent transition policy, parents and all stakeholders must ensure that all Form One students report to their secondary schools given that the government has already released funding to support learning activities for term one,” said the CS.

Covid-19 pandemic

 On his part, Indimuli urged school heads to ensure strict adherence to Covid-19 mitigation measures so that learning is not paralysed. He said all principals had agreed that each institution sets up a Covid-19 isolation centre.

Indimuli also urged school heads to be vigilant to avoid bullying of Form One students, saying many students had exhibited behaviour change due to the long time they spent at home during the Covid-19 occasioned break.

And as admission entered the second day, parents in Baringo County raised concern over high school fees demanded by local institutions.

Speaking at Kabarnet High School, a parent, Sandra Kosgei, said the marathon of paying fees for four terms this year had depleted incomes of many families, especially those that are not salaried or without reliable incomes.

“The economic times are tough and doing shopping and paying fees is too much for an ordinary parent who depends on farming and livestock keeping for fees,” Ms Kosgei said.

Elsewhere, secondary schools heads were accused of conspiring with cartels to swindle parents by inflating prices of school uniform.

According to Gilgil MP Martha Wangari, some schools were working with cartels to fleece parents through exaggerated uniform fees, even as she urged the ministry of Education to gazette school uniform regulations and save parents who are being over-charged.

“The prices charged by schools for uniforms are double compared to other shops and this has to be addressed,” she said.

Speaking in Gilgil after issuing more than Sh3 million bursary cheques to needy students, Wangari noted that congestion was a major worry in public schools amid rising cases of Covid-19.

“The only way of addressing this pandemic is through mass vaccination because currently public schools cannot afford social distancing due to congestion,” she said.

The MP was also concerned over the high number of girls who had dropped out of school in the constituency due to early pregnancies.

She identified Ol-jorai area as the worst affected, noting that more than 100 girls had dropped out class due to pregnancies.

“The biggest challenge we have is that some parents are colluding with chiefs to cover up these issues and it’s time the perpetrators were arrested,” she regretted.

On printing of books, Wangari said schools were losing millions to cartels. “We will summon the CS to Parliament to clarify on this issue where printers are dumping unwanted books to schools,” she said. Reporting by Irene Githinji, Mutuku Mwangangi, Kirera Mwiti and KNA

More on News