Defiant headteachers send learners home for fees

Umoja Secondary School

Students from Umoja Secondary School in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County at Kamukunji Estate in the town after they were allegedly sent home for school fees on January 13, 2021.

Photo credit: Jared Nyatataya | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Schools have not received 50 per cent of the capitation due for this term.
  • The national government has formally adopted the use of e-citizens to pay school fees.

Secondary schools have started sending students home over fee arrears even as principals claim their institutions are severely strained due to capitation challenges.

Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (Kessha) national chairman Willy Kuria said its officials met with Basic Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang, who promised that money will be released this week.

However, the funds are yet to be paid to schools after the government forced parents to pay fees through eCitizen. Schools have not received 50 percent of the capitation due for this term.

Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu is on record warning headteachers not to send learners home over fee arrears, a directive that has gone unheeded.

Difficult to run

Mr Kuria, who is also the principal of Muranga High School, said it was difficult to run schools because many suppliers had refused to give credit to the institutions, while salaries for non-teaching staff were yet to be paid.

"Schools are in serious disarray and it seems that the challenges of unreleased capitation funds are far from over. However, we met Dr Kipsang on March 7 and he promised that capitation could be released by the middle of next week,” said Mr Kuria.

Mr Kuria said day schools were finding it particularly difficult because they are totally dependent on capitation and 70 per cent of the students learn in these schools. On the issue of the education reforms bills, he said, Kessha is preparing a comprehensive memorandum to present to Parliament.

“But there will be no effective reforms in education without reforming the ministry itself," Mr Kuria said.

Last month, the national government formally adopted the use of e-citizens to pay school fees, amid a major uproar from education stakeholders, including teachers.

The programme was rolled out to all learning institutions across the country following the pilot project implemented in the 112 national schools across the country.

"In line with the government's digital transformation agenda, the Cabinet has approved the digitisation of the entire education system from basic to tertiary and university levels," President William Ruto had said at the time.

Parallel accounts

Defending the move, the Head of State said the intervention was aimed at addressing governance challenges in the education system that have led to parallel accounts and charging of unauthorised school fees.

"Others are the diversion of government capitation payments and other fraudulent activities that undermine the integrity of the education system, leading to the enrolment of ghost students," the President had said in a press statement.

Secondary school principals, however, lamented that the new mode of payment was introduced without the involvement of stakeholders.

"It will be a sure way of delaying school funds and disrupting school operations. Reconciling the money collected in schools will be a big challenge," Kessha’s National Governing Council said.

On March 1 this year, Mr Machogu said all public secondary schools will now receive the full government capitation grant of Sh22,244 up from Sh17,000 per student per year.