What you need to know:
- Boarding schools have to feed students and take care of all their provisions.
- All recurrent expenses have to be met.
The government’s directive to secondary school principals to allow students with fee arrears to resume studies was well-intentioned.
However, it is being abused by many parents. The directive was to ensure that learners from disadvantaged backgrounds were allowed to learn without disruption.
After a nine-month stay away from school, it was only logical that no learner was left behind when learning resumed last week. Indeed, such learners would be given government bursaries to underwrite their fees.
Unfortunately, many well-endowed parents have resorted to taking advantage of the government’s directive and refused to pay fees on the mistaken belief that their children would not be sent away. That is deceitful, irresponsible and unfair. Government’s good intentions should not be abused.
Schools need cash to carry out programmes. Boarding schools have to feed students and take care of all their provisions. All recurrent expenses have to be met. These cannot be done if a majority of learners do not pay fees.
To be sure, the current fees, capped at Sh53,544 annually, remains a fair deal; it is far below the actual unit cost required to keep learners in school. The government gives a subsidy of Sh22,000 on top of the fees, which is a good relief.
Part of the reason why many schools do not have adequate infrastructure is lack of cash. Fees is mainly used for recurrent expenses and little remains for capital projects. Funds drives and other levies are strictly controlled.
In the past year, when schools closed due to Covid-19, schools depleted their accounts as they used available resources to keep the institutions afloat. Thus, they do not have cash reserves to fall back to.
Except for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, all learners should pay school fees. It is unfair to expect principals to keep learners in school when parents fail to pay fees. They have a duty to take care of their children in schools; let them pay fees.