Schools fees tussle as Magoha warns against increase

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha

Education CS Prof George Magoha addresses journalists after inspecting workshops making school desks at Ndori Market in Siaya County on December 28, 2020. 

Photo credit: Tonny Omondi | Nation Media Group

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has warned head teachers against violating fees guidelines after a parents’ association reported complaints about higher levies charged by schools.

The Kenya National Parents Association said some of their members had complained that national schools had sent out fees structures for Sh80, 000 instead of Sh53, 554 per year while others have demanded extra levies like Sh1,500 for teachers’ motivation.

Schools are citing infrastructure improvements, purchase of sanitisers and other expenses to curb the spread of Covid-19 to justify the additional amounts. Yesterday, Prof Magoha directed schools to stick to the fees guidelines from the ministry and warned them against increasing fees.

Prof Magoha said no child, whether in public or private school, should be denied admission when schools reopen on Monday because of unpaid fees for the first term or second term.

Government allocation

The CS stressed that the government has allocated Sh19 billion for schools that will be disbursed once Treasury releases the money.

“No child should be sent home for school fees. We have Sh19 billion to facilitate free education for both primary and secondary school and this money shall be wired to the institutions by next week,” said Prof Magoha during a tour to assess the preparedness of schools in Murang’a.

The CS said Sh14 billion is meant for secondary schools and Sh5 billion for primary education.

Already, schools have sent fee structures and messages to parents asking them to ensure they clear all fees arrears for the first term and the second term, which will start on Monday.

On Wednesday, the Kenya National Parents Association Chairman Nicholas Maiyo told the Nation he has received several complaints from parents of some schools increasing fees.

Mr Maiyo said some schools have asked students to pay additional fees of Sh1,500 for teachers’ motivation while some national schools have stated their 2020 fees to be Sh80, 000 up from the usual Sh53,554.

“We are currently engaging the concerned schools and we shall be compiling a list of those that will flout the fees guidelines and report them to the ministry for action,” he said.

Mr Maiyo said parents are ready for schools reopening. He urged parents to clear the required fees, saying that will help schools to keep learners safe.

Ministry's guidelines

According to the ministry’s fees guidelines, all learners in secondary schools receive Sh22,244 each per annum from the government. Learners in public primary schools and public day secondary schools are not required to pay any extra fees.

Pupils in primary schools receive Sh1,420 each per annum as government capitation.

For category A secondary schools, which are national and extra county schools in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nyeri, Thika and Eldoret, parents are required to pay Sh 53,554.

The government tops up Sh22,244 for each student, adding to Sh75,798 annually.

Category B boarding and extra country schools in other areas also receive Sh22,244 government subsidy, and parents pay Sh40,535. The total school fees per year is Sh62,779.

However, Mr Maiyo said the association can only fight fee increment for public schools and not private schools. “If private schools have increased their fees, parents will have to talk to the schools as we only speak for public schools,” said Mr Maiyo

Knut's position

Meanwhile, the Kenya National Union of Teachers Secretary-General Wilson Sossion Wednesday asked parents to pay fees as required by the government.

“In order to ensure learners are safe, parents must support schools by clearing fees.”

Mr Sossion also called on the government to release school funds before Monday to help principals prepare for reopening.

The Kenya Union of Post Primary Teachers Secretary-General Akelo Misori also asked the government to release school funds and as he called on parent to clear fees.

“Schools need funds to ensure the Covid-19 health protocols are observed,” said Mr Misori.

Several secondary school heads who spoke to the Nation said it will be impossible to run schools without funds.

“For day scholars, we will require them to pay for lunch fees as we will not be allowing learners to go out of schools,” said a principal in Samburu County.

Prof Magoha said students from the private schools that have been closed down should be admitted in public schools.

“We have given firm instructions that no child from private school should be denied admission in any public school.”

The CS said the government has done everything possible to facilitate the resumption of learning after the nine-months closure due to the Covid pandemic.

Anti-virus measures

Prof Magoha admitted that social distancing will be a big challenge as there are no enough classes to accommodate learners as per the Ministry of Health regulations. He said teachers should be innovative and explore other options such as outdoor learning to de-congest the classrooms.

“If the weather allows, students should move out where there is more space and take their lessons,” he said.

He castigated some leaders who have been opposing the reopening of schools, saying they just want to create confusion.

“Those who want to continue keeping their children at home can do so for their own reasons but learning must continue.”

Prof Magoha said children will be required to have their masks on. He added that the government has in store masks that shall be distributed to the needy students. “The masks shall be given to children in the most vulnerable areas and whose parents cannot afford to buy for them.”

Exam centres

The CS said the ministry shall provide guidelines for candidates who will have moved from the examination centres on how they shall sit the exams.

Prof Magoha also insisted that the national exams shall continue as scheduled, saying there are some forces who are out to sabotage the exercise. “There are some cartels who want to frustrate this exercise for their own reasons but this shall not happen under my watch,” he said.

The CS further said students who are expectant should go back to class until their time to deliver is due. “Even those who have been married off, we want them back but they should be handled with care by both parents and teachers,” he added

He also noted that the ministry is paying special attention to children with special needs, who he said require more care.