Public secondary schools have devised ingenious ways to rip off parents through charges that directly contravene the government’s laid-down fees structure.
In school fees demand letters for this year obtained from a sample of schools by the Saturday Nation, headteachers have included levies for items that are catered for by the Ministry of Education and some that have been scrapped.
Notable new charges include funding for county and sub-county education boards, which is a task of the national government; holiday tuition, which was banned; membership for the headteachers association; and academic performance and improvement.
Schools are scheduled to reopen on Monday and Tuesday against the backdrop of high cost of living occasioned by inflation, higher cost of textbooks and stationery and a steep increase in the prices of basic commodities.
Publishers have announced a 15 per cent rise in textbook prices, attributing it to rising inflation, a weak shilling and increased cost of production.
“Parents are getting fee structures that have levies that they do not even understand,” Kenya National Association of Parents (KNAP) Secretary-General Musau Ndunda said on Friday, adding that more than 500 schools have unprocedurally increased their fees.
At Pangani Girls High School in Nairobi, new parents will pay Sh4,000 each for tea and hot water per year while those with children in forms two, three and four will part with Sh3,000.
And although the government provides Sh2,000 annually for each student in public schools, the school has demanded Sh1,500 per year for the same item from each learner.
In total, parents will have to pay to the school Sh59,235 per year for each student.
At Kakamega High School, each student is required to pay a basic fee of Sh78,000 in addition to several additional charges that include Sh4,030 for Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) projects, Sh2,322 for Board of Management (BOM), Sh5,150 for PTA activities, Sh300 for the school magazine, Sh806 for activities and Sh500 for the university form.
The school has also budgeted for Sh600,000 for external speakers, Sh2 million for extra-curricular programmes and Saturday lunches for teachers and capacity building workshops for staff at a cost of Sh527,500.
In addition, Sh880,000 has been earmarked for two annual general meetings and prize giving days, Sh400,000 for four academic days and Sh6 million for PTA activities.
Moi Girls in Eldoret is charging Sh69,527 in fees per student yearly in addition to a Sh11,640 levy for PTA and Sh2,000 for development.
“Parents and guardians who pay in installments are strictly advised to pay not less than three-quarters of the term’s fee on or before the opening day and balance by half the term,” says the principal in the letter.
At St George’s Girls in Nairobi, students will pay Sh18,940 per year for projects and facilities, Sh1,500 for computer studies and Sh500 for the university form, totalling to Sh74,995, with Sh45,402 paid in the first term.
Ng’iya Girls High School in Siaya is demanding Sh1,200 for county education board activities and Sh3,500 for supplementary tuition.
Other charges include Sh6,000 for PTA development levy and Sh5,012 for PTA teachers, bringing the total to Sh77,575 a year.
Mariakani Secondary School in Mombasa is demanding Sh4,000 per year as activity fee and Sh3,000 for BOM teachers, bringing the total to Sh52,571.
Kitondo Secondary School in Makueni, students are required to buy specific buckets, made in India, at Sh600 each, contribute Sh5,000 per year to a bus fund as well as Sh950 for the insurance premiums of the school’s two buses.
At Ribe Boys in Mombasa, each student is to pay Sh1,060 for infrastructure improvement per year, Sh2,000 for academic improvement, Sh2,000 for parents’ association and Sh4,600 for BOM teachers.
St Francis Girls High school, Mang’u, is charging Sh3,000 per year for Saturday remedial classes and Sh4,000 for PTA.
Mayori Secondary School in Embu is demanding Sh6,000 per student for coaching, Sh1,500 for the prize fund, Sh2,500 for motivation, Sh200 for sponsors and Sh100 for the district education fund.
SCHOOL HEADS' DEFENCE
The government pays Sh12,870 per year per student in regular schools and Sh32,600 in special needs schools.
Day scholars are required to pay a maximum of Sh9,374 and boarders Sh53,553.
Special needs students are supposed to pay Sh37,210.
Schools are supposed to break down the fees in a ratio of 50:30:20 for the three terms.
This financial year, the government has set aside Sh32.9 billion to cater for 2.34 million students in secondary schools but headteachers have ignored the structure, with some are charging as much as Sh100,000 per year.
While releasing the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination results on Wednesday, Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said he would issue a directive on school fees on January 21, as he launched the Form One selection.
“The government is paying for insurance and tuition, among other charges, but school heads and boards of management are passing the costs to parents. This is unacceptable,” Mr Ndunda said on the telephone.
Headteachers, however, sought to justify the fees, with Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (Kessha) Chairman John Awiti saying: “The fee structure does not touch on infrastructure developments and payment of boards of management teachers.”
He added that the extra charges were legitimate as long as they had been approved by county education boards.