Fees for food? Outrage as Ambira students with arrears ‘denied meals’

Ambira

Students enter Ambira High School gate. Reports that students who have fee arrears are being denied food have sparked outrage among parents.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Reports of students at Ambira High in Siaya County being denied food due to non-payment of fees have sparked outrage among parents.

Parents, who spoke to Nation.Africa, claimed the learners with fee arrears had been denied meals for the past one week.

Ms Mary Auma said she had received reports that the school management had decided to punish learners whose parents had not completed paying fees by denying the students meals.

The school is reported to have introduced meal cards which have been issued to students whose parents have paid fees.

The affected learners are forced to rely on snacks or share meals with their colleagues.

Siaya County Commissioner Jim Njoka said he had received complaints about the matter. He said education had been sent to the institution to investigate the matter. 

“The matter has been brought to my attention and we are carrying out investigations to establish what is going on at the school,” said Mr Njoka.

Ambira High Principal Joseph Otieno denied the reports that students who had fee arrears had been denied food. He, however, confirmed that the school was owed Sh70 million in outstanding fee arrears and asked parents to clear their children’s fee balances.

He blamed a group of parents, who had not paid their children’s school fees for spreading malicious rumours about the institution    

 “We have not sent any student home. What we have done is to notify the parents to pay fees. All learners are having their normal meals regardless of whether they have paid fees,” said Mr Otieno. 

County Director of Education Nicholas Oyucho said he had visited the school and submitted a report to Siaya County Commissioner for action. 

Parents complained that learners who had a fee balance of Sh500 were being denied meals.

“It is disheartening to see our children starving because parents have not paid fees. Why would the school use such an unorthodox means to punish our children?” said Ms Auma.

She claimed the affected learners were seen lying in the open field after being turned away from the dining hall during meals.

 “The school has even asked some parents to pick their children and take them home despite the directive by the Ministry of Education to allow students with fee balances not to be sent home,” said Ms Auma.

Last week, Education CS Prof George Magoha announced that the government had released Sh16.9 billion to schools for the second term and that no teacher should send learners home for fees.

 “The learners are supposed to be in school and no school head should send them home. The learners must be in school and attend classes like the rest. This is a directive for all the public schools within the republic of Kenya,” said Prof Magoha.

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