High Court extends order barring use of eCitizen for school fees payment

Moi Girls High School

Parents, guardians and students during the Form One admission exercise at Moi Girls High School in Nairobi on January 15, 2024.

Photo credit: Billy Ogada | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • High Court judge Chacha Mwita extended the orders issued last week until April 17, when the case will heard.
  • The government said the digital platform is integrated with all available electronic payment platforms in the country.

The High Court has extended orders barring the government from compelling schools and other institutions of learning to use the eCitizen platform to pay fees and other levies.

High Court judge Chacha Mwita extended the orders issued last week until April 17, when the case will heard.

Justice Mwita suspended the circular issued by Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang’ on January 31, requiring parents, guardians and students to pay fees and other levies through the platform.

This was after Nakuru-based surgeon Dr Magare Gikenyi challenged the directive saying the decision was arrived at without public participation and without respecting statutory and constitutional safeguards.

At the same time, the court allowed several bodies including the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) and Council of Governors to join the case, despite opposition by Attorney General Justin Muturi.

Mr Muturi had opposed their joinder arguing that the groups failed to sufficiently demonstrate their interest in the matter.

While allowing the LSK to join the matter as an interested party, the judge pointed out that the lawyers’ body’s mandate includes to advise and assist members, the government and the larger public in all matters relating to the administration of justice in Kenya.

Other bodies that joined the case are Kenya Parents Association and the Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek).

In a circular sent to the national school principals in January, Dr Kipsang directed principals of national schools to submit bank details of their institutions to enable parents to pay fees through the eCitizen platform.

But Dr Gikenyi said forcing parents to pay their school fees through eCitizen without their public participation is absurd and irrational.

“For instance, there are parents who pay fees in kind (by providing maize or beans directly to the school in exchange for fees), the same will be locked out through this unfair administrative action,” he said.

Dr Gikenyi also questioned how parents in rural setups who don't have access to digital services would make the payments.

He further said there is no legislation or framework or statutory guidelines on how the said funds are utilised and sent back to the end users.

Dr Gikenyi pointed out that the government also announced plans to have one account for both national and county government, a preposition which is against the constitution which envisages that both national and county government be distinct, though interdependent.

He added that the directive has also been sent to various semi-autonomous and autonomous agencies and institutions of higher learning like universities and colleges, affecting payment of school fees, student accommodation and kitchen, among other services. 

Dr Gikenyi further said a Sh50 transaction fee imposed for every service is irrational.

The government said the digital payments platform is integrated with all available electronic payment platforms in Kenya, including mobile telephone money payment services.

A nominal access fee Sh50 per transaction or US$1 per transaction for foreign designated currency transactions, is charged unless waived by the CS Treasury.