What you need to know:
- Nation survey shows that several leading schools had honoured guidelines on school fees but increased the fees by as much as Sh40,000 by introducing other levies along the way.
Parents are in shock after dozens of national schools increased fees to as high as Sh100,000 a year in blatant disregard of guidelines by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.
A survey by the Nation shows that several leading schools have honoured the ministry's guidelines on school fees, which put the ceiling at Sh53,554 a year, but increased the fees by as much as Sh40,000 by introducing other levies along the way.
The move goes against an agreement reached in January between the ministry, teachers’ unions and the Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association.
Some schools have re-introduced levies for items that are catered for by the government and even some that have been scrapped.
Some of the leading schools which have increased fees above the recommended amount include Maseno School, Mang’u, Nairobi School, Alliance High School, Meru School, Karima Girls, Kapsabet Boys, Upper Hill, Buruburu Girls and Sing’ore Girls.
While the fees structure for Form One students joining Mang’u indicated that the year’s fees was Sh53,554, the school has since increased it to Sh98,000.
Upper Hill School, which asked Form One students to pay Sh53,554 for the whole year, has raised it to Sh78,000, while Nairobi School is now asking for Sh90,000. At Alliance, the fees is in the region of Sh80,000.
Kapsabet High School Principal Kipchumba Maiyo was at pains to explain the increase in Form One fees to Sh65,000.
“The extra levies were approved by parents to cater for any shortfall in the budget,” he said.
Equally at pains to explain the huge increase in Form One school fees to Sh92,000 was Meru School Principal Silas Mwirigi.
He told the Nation that the increment had been approved by the school’s Board of Management and Parents Teachers Association.
“National schools cannot be managed like county schools. Each school has its own unique needs and requirements which brings about disparities in the fees structures,” said Mr Mwirigi.
He said the school had constructed modern facilities at a huge cost, attracting events like the national music festival, ball games and the annual science congress.
He also explained that the school had secured an insurance cover for its assets and assured parents that they will not pay a single cent for property damaged during last Wednesday’s arson attack, the second such incident in just one month. At Karima Girls in Nyandarua county, the initial fees of Sh53,600 has since been raised by an additional Sh35,000, bringing it to Sh88,600.
The school is also asking parents to pay an extra Sh15,000 to cater for the construction of 12 classrooms.
The Nation came across two different fee structures at Buruburu Girls, the first one indicating that the fees for the year is Sh53,554 but the second one showing that the annual fees is Sh91,933.
Among the items on the second fee structure include Sh8,000 for the Parents Teachers Association, Sh3,000 for computer and Internet provision, Sh1,000 for bed cover, Sh1,800 as development fund, Sh1,500 as doctor’s fees, Sh900 towards insurance cover, Sh1,000 for bursary, Sh1,000 for school identity card and Sh3,000 for academic improvement.
Maseno School has also increased its annual fees for Form Ones from the initial Sh58,000 to Sh100,000.
Sing’ore Girls, which had indicated its annual fees as Sh53,554 in line with the ministry guidelines, is now demanding Sh80,000 while Nakuru Boys’ High School is asking for Sh72,000.
But Kenya National Union of Teachers Secretary-General Wilson Sossion defended the decision by schools to increase fees.
The union blamed the government for failing to release the Free Secondary Education money to schools as promised. He insisted that the Sh53,554 ceiling set by the government did not take into consideration the current economic situation. If anything, ministry officials sit on the boards of secondary schools and are therefore aware of the adjustments in school fees, he said.
“School management committees meet to draw the budget and parents are fully represented in this committee so one cannot blame the principals. No principal can levy fee without consultations,” said Mr Sossion.
“About 37 per cent of teachers in public secondary schools are employed by Boards of Management. The schools need the money to pay them and that is why fees will continue to increase,” he said.
Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i was unavailable for comment but, in an earlier interview, he had told this writer that he was aware that secondary schools had breached the fees guidelines. “I will take action very soon,” he said.
He is, however, yet to set up a team to review the fees charged by public secondary schools despite several promises.
Kenya Parents Teachers Association chairman Nathan Barasa accused the government of failing to rein in schools which were breaching fees guidelines.
“The Ministry of Education has failed to carry out an audit to determine the implementation of the guidelines. Most schools have varied their fees without seeking approval,” said Mr Barasa.
He regretted that despite promises by Dr Matiang’i that a team would be constituted to review school fees, nothing had happened so far.
According to the government guidelines, parents are required to pay Sh53,554 for boarding schools, Sh9,374 for day schools and Sh37,210 for special needs schools, while the government provides a subsidy of Sh12,870 for each learner per year.
In the 2016/2017 financial year, the government has set aside Sh32.4 billion to cater for 2.3 million students in secondary schools.
A recent study by the Institute for Economic Affairs revealed that parents across the country are still paying levies for items that have been outlawed in public schools such as admission fees and teacher motivation fee.
They are also being compelled to provide funds to be used in organising events, school development and for security activities.
Section 32 of the Basic Education Act says “no person shall, while admitting a child to a public school or a basic education institution, collect any admission fee”.
The study states: “Of greater concern is that parents are being coerced to make payments. Non-payment can result in the child being sent away from school, which is against the objectives of free primary education”.
Section 29 of the Act states: “No public school shall charge or cause any parent or guardian to pay tuition fees for or on behalf of any pupil in the school”.
School heads are only allowed to impose charges with the approval of the Cabinet Secretary in consultation with the County Education Board.
“All parents and guardians surveyed indicated making payments to the school for either an item or service. Payments were made for pupils’ lunch, tuition, school activities, examinations, security, teachers employed by parents association, report cards and admission fee,” the survey states.
Additional reporting by Agnes Aboo, Tom Matoke and Erick Matara.